Rio Ferdinand opens up about the agony of losing his mum to cancer two years after his wife

Rio's mother Janice died from breast cancer this summer

Rio Ferdinand has opened up about his mother Janice's heartbreaking battle with breast cancer before she passed away in July. The former footballer, who lost his wife Rebecca Ellison to the same disease in 2015, revealed how his mother was his "rock" following the untimely death of his wife. In an extract of his autobiography, Thinking Out Loud, obtained by The Sun, Rio explained how his mum waited until after Christmas - the first one without Rebecca - to tell her family her diagnosis. "I couldn't believe what I was hearing," he shared. "I felt like an eight-year-old boy. I needed my parents and could barely comprehend what was happening. For a while it looked as if the prayers had been answered. Within six weeks she seemed back to her old self. Then came the bombshell." He added: "The parallels with Rebecca were eerie: The cancer had spread to Mum's bones and liver, as well as her kidney and lung."


Mummy It won't ever be enough but I just want to say thanks, a really big thank you. The ability you had to make me feel loved at every moment in my life without even having to say it or be there by my side will never be forgotten. You were a fighter, a little fighter but with a huge heart. And you wore that heart on your sleeve throughout. All I ever wanted in life from as young as I can remember was to make you proud and I know I must of got somewhere near to doing that.... because your chest was puffed out as big as anyone's whenever my name was mentioned or when you was in a stadium watching me play... I can just hear/see you now "what did you say, oh ok...that's my son..."!!! You were fiery, you were protective, you was soft & hard faced when need be... you loved hard, you disciplined me, you were a grafter & you were my everything. I sit here now thinking & the only negative I can think of is that you talked for too long on the phone!! You gave all of your life to make sure everything was ok for myself, my brothers, sister, your grandchildren & husband Peter (never mind the countless friends & family too). At my most difficult time, you were my shining light & made it your mission to be there for me & my kids... trust me that will never forgotten. From school runs to homework to making them smile... to starting horse riding lessons....they will always remember. You are the most selfless & giving person I have ever known which came from a genuine place of love. The way you have touched so many people's hearts will live on and will be the way many will remember you mum. You were an inspirational person in so many ways, one day I will be able to tell you them all face to face. Love you mummy Rio x

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STORY: Rio Ferdinand pays emotional tribute to his mum who died following cancer battle

Despite Janice being told she had beaten the disease, the cancer returned in June and she was admitted to hospital. "I'm not proud to admit that for the first few days I could not bring myself to visit Mum in hospital," he said, also adding: "In my head all I could hear were my frantic pleas for a divine reprieve. 'Please, no, not my mum. Anyone but Mum.' She was the only reason I survived losing Rebecca." Rio's mother died aged just 58 after losing her fight with cancer, two years on from the death of Rebecca, who left behind three young children with her husband - Lorenz, Tia and Tate. The retired footballer recently starred in a BBC One documentary, Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad, which showed Rio adapting to life as a single dad. His mother Janice featured on the show, and was seen helping out with her three young grandchildren.

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STORY: Rio Ferdinand reveals why his late wife would approve of his relationship with Kate Wright

Meanwhile, Rio recently confirmed that he is in a relationship with former TOWIE star, Kate Wright. The reality TV star has since revealed she is stepping out of the spotlight in order to focus on her boyfriend and his children. Speaking about the couple's romance for the first time, 26-year-old Kate told The Sun: "I'm taking a step back from the public eye. I want to keep my life private as I lived my previous relationship on TOWIE. My priority right now is Rio and the family."