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England cricket hero Ben Stokes arrived in New Zealand this week to be with his father, Ged, who is battling brain cancer.
Stokes pulled out of England's test series against Pakistan after the first game to fly out to New Zealand and he has revealed that his father, a former New Zealand rugby league star, was diagnosed with the illness back in January.
The 64-year-old initially fell ill in South Africa, where the family had travelled to watch Ben play for England, and was admitted to a hospital in Johannesburg after suffering a brain bleed.
Upon return to New Zealand, further tests revealed it was cancer and the family have opened up in an interview with the Weekend Herald.
"I didn't sleep for a week and my head wasn't really in it," Stokes said of his decision to leave the England squad. "Leaving was the right choice from a mental point of view."
Stokes is currently in isolation due to New Zealand's coronavirus protocol.
Stokes senior added: "They had to assess how I travelled and from that they discovered I had a couple of tumours on my brain as well.
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"So, basically brain cancer. How that came about nobody knows but obviously I've had a few bangs on my head through my life so that's probably contributed to it."
Stokes has starred this summer for England and celebrated his magnificent century against the West Indies with a three-finger salute to pay tribute to Ged, who had a finger amputated during his rugby league days.
"He was tough [on me]. But as I got older I realised it was all for a reason," Stokes added.
"He knew I wanted to be a professional sportsman and he was drilling that into me as I started to make a career in cricket.
"His reputation sort of speaks for itself. You speak to anyone who knows him, played with him or worked with him, they'd all say the same thing. Most people acquire a softer side with age and sometimes with dad that has been quite weird to see.
"What he's going through has brought that side out as well – we all knew he had it, he just didn't show it that often."
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