Borussia Dortmund’s Sebastien Haller has talks to the British Times spoke in detail about his cancer, which put him out of action for the entire first half of the season.
In the summer, the striker felt stomach pains during a trip with the Ivory Coast national team. “I thought it was stomach pain because I couldn’t digest well for three days and felt like I had something in my stomach. It’s okay, I thought,” he said. “I’m not someone who always goes to the doctor ‘Cause he’s in pain. I’ll take a few pills and it’ll go away.”
Haller had tried to train normally before classic flu symptoms caught up with him. In the four days he was “hardly able to breathe”: “I couldn’t finish the training.”
After he had also suffered from pain at the BVB training camp in Switzerland, the testicular cancer was discovered during an MRI scan. “I then went to the urologist and after five seconds of examination they said, ‘Yes, it’s a tumor – it’s testicular cancer.'”
Haller didn’t go crazy afterwards. “I wanted to wait to hear all the information and then react or make a plan,” he explained. “It’s pretty overwhelming. You’re trying to process and digest all the information. You’re always trying to go back to basics . What’s the first thing you have to do when something like this happens? Change your routine, your life. At that moment I put football straight on hold. Ok, something serious is happening now; Nothing else matters. I’m just thinking health and new routine. My wife was on vacation with the three children. How do you tell them that? But you have to.”
Haller then underwent chemotherapy treatment for several months. The period of suffering lasted from the first feeling that something might be wrong in May 2022 to the substitution in the friendly against Fortuna Düsseldorf during the winter preparations, ultimately just under eight months.
BVB – Haller: “Five days that suck”
In the fight against cancer, what helped him above all was “having someone to talk to about it. This is one of the biggest parts of the disease, the people around you. Everyone forgets them, but they also suffer.”
The operations, the hair loss and the bloated body didn’t bother him, Haller reported: “It’s nothing. For me it’s just appearance, only physical. The real side effects are the headaches, the nausea, the pain in the stomach.” He only felt uncomfortable because of the depressed mood during his stay in the hospital.
“I’m someone who tries to be positive all the time. I have this mindset that I want to be able to see things through. I pushed the bad thoughts away. ‘Hospital? Yeah, here we go.’ You have chemo and every day you have this fluid in your body and you’re just focused – like in a game,” he said, adding, “You have five days that suck, but okay, you’re not alone. 72 hours of chemo and then it’s good for two weeks. You think about your family and see your family and rest and enjoy. I kept those ideas in my head.”
Haller is now free of symptoms and is even regularly in BVB’s starting line-up – given Youssoufa Moukoko’s absence for weeks, possibly also on Wednesday in the first knockout round of the Champions League against Chelsea.