Football Ferns star Rebekah Stott reveals grim cancer diagnosis

Football Ferns star Rebekah Stott faces a challenging cancer battle, after being diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

The 27-year-old defender, who  has played 71 games for New Zealand since 2012, has posted a social media, thanking friends and family for their support through a tough time, and pledging to fight the disease.

"I know the journey ahead will be difficult, but I want to face each obstacle with a positive mindset and help inspire others who have blood cancer," she writes on Instagram. 

Two weeks ago, Stott announced she was leaving her current contract with Bright & Hove Albion in England and returning to Australia for "medical reasons", promising to share more on her health when the time was right.

"I obvious knew there was something not right," she explains in an Instagram video. "I had two big lumps on my neck that were growing, so it was pretty intense and pretty stressful, but at the same time, I had a lot of support around me.

"I went and got a biopsy, and asked the lady there what it could be. She said it could be lymphoma.

"I got on Google, as everyone does, and researched it a bit. I found out there's lots of different types, but it's very treatable and very curable, especially in young people."

Stott was diagnosed in England and with the National Health Service struggling to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, she returned home to continue her battle. Although born in New Zealand, she moved to Australia and represented that country at junior level.

"I was actually in quarantine when I got the results that I had been diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma. I was just glad to know exactly what it was and be like, 'now I can deal with it'.

"It had travelled below my diaphragm, which means it's stage three - I'll be doing more intense chemotherapy. I'll be doing four months of a 21-day cycle, which will be pretty hard.

"There's a high risk of losing my fertility, I'll lose my hair and will probably feel pretty crook."

Stott insists being an elite athlete will help her through the procedure.

"I'm very healthy and pretty fit - I can get fitter and will do going into treatment - and I think that gives me the best possible chance to come out of it even stronger.

"I know it's not going to be easy, but I really want to go through this with a positive attitude, and try to encourage and inspire others to do the same. That's only going to help me go through the process.

"I know it's going to be hard, but I think, if I go in with that mindset, it's only going to help me."

Stott made her NZ debut on her 19th birthday, coming off the bench in a 1-0 win over China. She has represented the Football Ferns at two Olympics, playing every minute of their three games at Rio 2016.

She helped Melbourne City to three straight W-League titles from 2016-18, while also playing professionally in the United States, Germany, England and Norway.