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Father of football fan (19) killed by rare cancer calls for more checks

WHEN football-mad teen Colm Rooney complained of groin pain he thought it was a sports injury.

One year later the 19-year-old Donabate student lost his battle with a very rare form of cancer after a tumour half the size of a football was discovered.

Colm's grieving dad Seamus has now spoken about about the devastating illness Ewing Sarcoma which claimed his son's life in July.

"Colm started to feel pain in 2009 but he didn't say anything, he thought it might be related to his playing football for St Ita's Under-17s," he said.

"I feel that there should be more education about the disease because he had it for a year before we suspected anything.

"It might not have changed the outcome but it might have improved his quality of life to get treatment earlier.

"Eventually I noticed that he was taking painkillers and that there was swelling so I took him to a sports clinic in March 2010.

"That's when we found out that he had cancer in his pelvis and a tumour half the size of a Gaelic football.

"He couldn't have surgery and had to get chemo, and the doctor told me privately that the disease was also in his lungs.

"My son was 17 when this started and I did think that he didn't look well that summer but he told me he was fine.

"I don't want to cause any panic [among young people and their parents], it is very rare, but it's still worth going for routine check-ups."

Colm was buried next to another young man who died from Ewing Sarcoma last year, Malahide native Ross Nugent (18), and although the two never knew each other, the Nugents have since become a source of support for the Rooney family.

"I met Ross's mum Sandra and spoke to his sister Emma over the phone. I found comfort to speak to people who have been through the same experience.

"I'm now looking to take part in the Dublin marathon in his memory. He was a very happy and brave young man who lived life to the full."

His family endured more heartbreak this week when his grave collapsed from all the rain. "All of Colm's friends have left Dublin flags [at the grave], jerseys from his favourite football teams, and they light candles. His mother Anne would go there every day so I was really disturbed to see it like that but the council said they would take care of it."

hnews@herald.ie