Marching on Cancer: Finlay's experience

Date: 23 February 2022

When asked about his favourite Leeds United player, teenager Finlay Cawthorne is quick to answer.

“Kalvin Phillips is great; he’s really smooth on the ball,” he explains. “But Raphinha is definitely our star player this season.”

The 16-year-old is a lifelong Leeds fan. Along with his parents and three brothers the family watch every match and are always looking for the chance to go and see them play.

When Finlay’s mum Nicola saw that Yorkshire Cancer Research and Leeds United had invited fans to nominate someone with an experience of cancer for the chance to win hospitality tickets to a match at Elland Road, she was keen to put her son’s name forward.

Finlay was diagnosed with leukaemia in August 2020, when he was 14 years old. He began his treatment, which will continue until October 2023, in the midst of the pandemic.

During this time, Finlay could only be accompanied by one parent to his hospital appointments, and his three brothers were unable to visit him during his stays in hospital.

Nicola said: “When I saw there was the chance for Finlay to win hospitality tickets, I thought that he definitely deserved them. He’s a tough cookie and he’s always faced everything head-on. I thought nominating him would show how proud we are of him.”

Finlay’s dad Marc continued: “He’s done extremely well during treatment and one of the things that has kept him going is his love for Leeds United.

“We watch all the games, and even watched a few matches in hospital.”

Despite the effects of treatment, Finlay wanted to give something back to the charities that had helped him since he was diagnosed. He set his sights on walking a marathon, and over the course of a month completed the 26.2-mile distance, raising £10,000.

Finlay was one of 10 successful nominees who received the opportunity to attend a match at home, and alongside his Mum and two friends visited Elland Road to watch Leeds play Brentford on Sunday, December 5.

The nail-biting match ended in a draw after a last-minute equaliser from Patrick Bamford.

Nicola added: “We all had a fabulous time and we’re so glad we got the draw.

“Finlay's sheer positivity has kept him going. He recently returned to school and to doing what he loves – football.”

► Find out more about the chosen nominees


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