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Promising young Leeds footballer stricken by rare cancer

Murray Watson with sister Millie, mum Nichola and dad Kenny.

Murray Watson with sister Millie, mum Nichola and dad Kenny.

A promising young footballer has been left paralysed by a rare form of spinal cancer.

Murray Watson, 18, who played for Guiseley Juniors and Otley Town FC, lost almost full use of his arms and legs in the space of just eight weeks.

At first he noticed a loss of feeling in his right hand and then became increasingly unsteady on his feet.

But it was while away on a two week family holiday to Turkey in July his parents became seriously worried.

Just days after he returned home Murray was admitted to neurology ward 21 at Leeds General Infirmary, where he has remained ever since.

A series of tests, including a biopsy, confirmed the worse – that he has anaplastic astrocytoma, an aggressive tumour on his spine.

Now Murray is undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which has brought “a little more” movement to his right hand and strength in his wrist, said dad Kenny, 47.

Asked how the family is coping with the dramatic change in Murray’s health, mum Nicola, 45, said: “It’s horrendous...but he’s a very positive boy.

“He’s absolutely amazing and we are trying to be the same for him.

“The staff, the doctors, they are outstanding – beyond anything you would imagine.”

She added: “Murray didn’t smoke or drink, and has always been super fit. The radiotherapy is leaving him very tired, but he is managing to keep upbeat.”

Dad Kenny added: “The reality is he’s struggling to feed himself, and he can’t push a wheelchair.

“I think that puts this into context.”

Murray, who had plans to study business and IT at university, has had to defer his first year at Northumbria University in Newcastle.

Despite being well enough to sit his A-levels, Murray was unable to collect his results, which his mum delivered straight to his hospital bedside.

School friend Jasmin Pearson-Turner, 18, said: “It came on so quickly it’s a shock to everybody.

“You wouldn’t ever think what has happened to Murray was even possible.”

* A hair cutting marathon is due to take place at Jazz No 1 Hair Studio in Guiseley tonight (Nov 6) in support of Murray Watson.

All proceeds raised from hair appointments booked between 4pm and 10pm will be donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust and Leeds General Infirmary’s neurology ward 21, organiser and salon owner Paul Shakeshaft told the YEP.

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