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."
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.
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."