Great Britain guard Steph Gandy has revealed that she almost died last summer during surgery.

Having been crowned as the inaugural MVP of the WBBL after leading Sheffield Hatters to a clean sweep of honours, the Detriot-born star made a swift and complete recovery.

However for the first time, she has confessed to the rocky few hours in which more than her career was in the balance in the summer of 2014.

“For years I suffered with a weak bladder and as it got worse, a routine visit to the doctor suddenly turned out to be a date with surgery and a Myomectomy,” said Gandy.

“Before I attended GB camp last year I went for a body scan to see exactly where all these fibroids lay and my doctor explained it would require keyhole surgery and a few tiny incisions in my stomach, which meant I would be in and out in a matter of days – it seemed simple enough.

“After camp I prepared myself for my first ever surgery of this kind and after I was given my lovely operating attire of a backless gown and stockings, the doctor warned me of the possibility of having to switch to an open surgery and making a large incision through the abdomen if there were any complications.

“There were indeed major complications and the operation took almost six hours due to the size and location of the fibroids, as the results were different than what the body scan had shown months earlier.

“I suffered from almost bleeding out during the surgery which took some time to control and that resulted in me nearly losing my life and a lengthy stay in the hospital afterwards, when I even had trouble eating.

“They removed nine fibroids, with the biggest measuring the size of a grapefruit and the two that were sat on my bladder were the size of lemons.”

It has taken significant levels of courage and perseverance for the player to fight back from what was a terrifying and perilous experience.

She also admitted that it was only the support of those around her that managed to get her back on the floor and realising she could actually return to former glories.

Although as it happened, the mother of one went on to raise the bar even higher in a stunning recovery which was initially hard to initiate.

“As an athlete, to have to sit there and basically lose all your muscle mass which is everything you’ve worked so hard on for so many years in terms of building it up and then watching it slip away from you day by day, makes you feel weak and powerless,” she revealed.

“It gives you a sense of vulnerability going through something like that – all the while thinking over and over about how you could ever return to a basketball court.

“Especially after a few weeks had passed and I stepped onto the scales to discover I was down to 75 kilos and I was horrified to say the least.

“This was the moment when I thought there was no way I was returning to basketball. I mean I couldn’t eat or I couldn’t even get up and down the stairs properly.

“That was when the reality of my situation hit me and believe me, it really did hit me hard.

“For days I was on the phone to my family and friends, but avoiding answering my (club) coach as to whether I was returning to play.

“The hardest part of all this was thinking I was alone and I had no one – simply because no one could understand what I was actually going through.
“But how wrong I was,” added Gandy.

“I had the support of my family, friends and the Sheffield Hatters organisation.
“I had been so consumed with self-pity, I didn’t even realise it and so I finally decided to pick up the phone and tell my coach [GB Assistant, Vanessa Ellis] I would be playing.”

Everything changed for Gandy from that moment onwards. It was the first footstep on a hard but astoundingly rapid road not only to full fitness – but scintillating form and an unquenchable thirst for the game.

“Because I was fit and in shape before the surgery, it helped me have a faster recovery,” declared Gandy.

“About two months after surgery, I found myself on the treadmill and even though it was one of my most boring workouts ever – it felt absolutely great.
“When I when I attended my first few practice sessions, Coach ‘Ness’ [Vanessa Ellis] warned everyone to be mindful of my injury.

“But as I trained, I thought that if I couldn’t go hard in practice myself, then I would never be able to play in a real match if I didn’t put my fears aside and just play.

“So I started going hard, attacking on offence and playing ‘in your face’ full court defence.

“Once everybody noticed I wasn’t playing timid anymore they started playing harder and going at me.”

She continued, “At that moment, I knew I was back, lighter, faster and confident – ready to play and most important of all, I was game ready!
“I finally played in my first game back on 08 November last year and I hit the ground running.

“It goes to show with enough dedication, patience, hard work, and external support, just how far you can go and what amazing things you can achieve.”

Gandy will step out with her colleagues at EuroBasket Women Final Round in Szombathely next week against Croatia, Latvia, Russia and Serbia.

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