Inspirational Burnley Football Club employee diagnosed with cancer overwhelmed by sporting celebrity support
An inspirational employee at Burnley Football Club has learned first hand that cancer has no colours.
Media assistant at Turf Moor, Ellis Lee, has been overwhelmed by the generous gestures of support from professional athletes across the country since his diagnosis with Hodgkin lymphoma in December.
The 20-year-old understandably struggled to come to terms with the news at first but, since beginning his treatment, he's kicked off his fund-raising efforts to help those who have been there to help him.
Household names from the world of sport, particularly football, have donated items for auction with Ricky Hatton, who held multiple world championships at light-welterweight and one at welterweight, gifting a pair of boxing gloves to aid the fight against cancer.
Manchester rivals, City and United, have joined forces to help the youngster's cause, with John Stones and Marcus Rashford sending signed shirts.
Brighton's Bruno followed suit, Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy and team-mate Ben Chilwell also got involved, donating shirts ahead of this weekend's Premier League clash against the Foxes at Turf Moor, as did Bradford City's Billy Clarke.
Ellis has also received shirts from Chelsea, AFC Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Leeds United and Champions League quarter-finalists Liverpool while other clubs are also looking to do their bit.
Last, but by certainly no means least, Burnley boss Sean Dyche and his squad have contributed more than £1,000 to his fund-raising efforts.
"It all started at Manchester United," he said. "I was in the tunnel at Old Trafford and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer invited me in to the dressing room to meet the players.
"He wished me well which was very nice of him. Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford all came over to talk to me and Rashford gave me a signed shirt.
"Then Bruno invited me on to the pitch at the Amex Stadium and presented me with a signed Brighton shirt. I think my story touched him because his Mum had been through a similar thing. We had a really good chat.
"I've had memorabilia sent from Crystal Palace, AFC Bournemouth, Chelsea, Leeds United Bradford and Manchester City.
"I've even been out for dinner with Bradford City defender Billy Clarke, who donated a Sunderland shirt from John O'Shea and a pair of football boots.
"I've had a lot of messages as well. It just shows that cancer has no colours. Rivalries are put to one side and everyone is there to support you."
Ellis has already raised £3,500 for Bloodwise, formerly Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, on his JustGiving page while everything else will go to Ward J94 Young Adult Cancer Unit at St James’ Hospital in Leeds, where he's undergoing chemotherapy.
All his efforts will culminate in a charity night at the Malmaison Hotel in Leeds on Bank Holiday Sunday, May 5th.
"When I first found out I was dazed," said Ellis. "I just never thought it would happen to me, especially at my age.
"I've coped with it better than I thought I would. Luckily I've got some great people around me.
"My parents, my two best friends, Chara Andrews and Niamh Sutcliffe, and plenty of others have helped me stay positive. That's the best thing to do, otherwise it starts building up on you."
Ellis detected a lump in his neck after suffering from a persistent cough and visited his local GP with dad, Adrian, to seek expert advice.
From there he was fast-tracked to Bradford Royal Infirmary where they pinpointed the cancer on a biopsy and ultra-sound scan the week before Christmas.
Ellis lost his mum, Gail, to cancer when he was just three-years-old while stepmum, Sangita, has recently won her battle with breast cancer.
Fortunately, the prognosis is a positive one for Ellis having caught the cancer at an early stage and now he's encouraging others to act on any concerns they may have.
"If there is anything that you ever feel isn't right with your body just get it checked out," he said. "Even if it turns out to be nothing you're not wasting anybody's time.
"Fortunately I caught mine pretty early. That can make the difference. It's not aggressive, it's a curable cancer.
"People are generally scared to go to the doctors but if you go you can give yourself that peace of mind.
"The news has been positive since my first course of treatment because the lump has disappeared from my neck. It has killed the cells already which was a huge positive. It has worked straight away."
Ellis added: "It's been an eye-opening experience and I appreciate life a lot more now. I appreciate the smaller things.
"Everyone has been really supportive since I found out. They've been there for me every day and made it easier for me.
"I didn't leave the house for five days after I first found out but now I'm just trying to get out and stay busy to keep my mind off things.
"The nurses on Ward J94, who I am raising money for, have been so caring. They are unbelievable and they've helped me settle really quickly. I also need to say a big thank you to Zain Khan and Teegan Elisha, who I met on the ward.
"I can't thank my stepmum enough for where I am now, either. She was diagnosed with breast cancer last year but she has beaten it.
"She has given me loads of advice because she's been through it all herself. My dad has also been so supportive through it and he's been by my side every minute.
"I can't thank this club enough for all the support either. They've been by my side and they're always checking to see how I'm getting on.
"I'm always keeping them updated. They are a great group of people to work with from the top to the bottom."