Former Scotland rugby captain Tom Smith reveals cancer battle

London (AFP) –


Former Scotland rugby captain Tom Smith has revealed he is battling stage four colorectal cancer.

The 48-year-old prop forward, who won 61 Scottish caps and toured with the British and Irish Lions, has received intensive rounds of chemotherapy and is also undergoing radiotherapy after the cancer spread to his liver and brain.

"I was in my hospital bed and I said to staff, 'I'm determined to fight this'," Smith said on the Scottish Rugby Union website.

In an interview with the BBC, the former Scotland international, who lives in the south of France, recalled how earlier this year continued pain in his abdomen eventually led to him seeking medical help, following weight loss, lack of sleep and passing blood.

"I played rugby for 15 years professionally. Aches and pains are part of the deal as you get older. I think I wrote it off until it got to the point that I needed to do something," Smith said in a BBC podcast.

"I try to get on with things and that's probably my downfall. Life has changed very quickly. I want to do the right thing for my family; this all leaves you a bit exposed."

A reunion lunch of Scotland's 1999 Five Nations Championship-winning team, in which Smith played, is set to be held in Edinburgh next month. The event will help raise funds for the former Scotland captain and his family.

"It's quite daunting because some of the treatment is very unpleasant," said Smith. "But I've faced some tough opponents, and the least you can do is fight. So let's fight."

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend played alongside Smith, who also has epilepsy, during the Lions' Test series victory against South Africa in 1997 and also at club level with Brive.

"For me, Tom is the outstanding Scotland player of the professional era and I'm sure rugby supporters throughout Scotland and the world will rally behind him and his family in these tough times," he said.