The two-time World Championship runner-up Ali Carter has been diagnosed with lung cancer. World Snooker, the game's commercial ruling body, announced yesterday, the opening day of the 2014-15 season, that the 34-year-old from Chelmsford will undergo an intensive course of chemotherapy.
Carter, who also suffers from Crohn's disease, which affects the gastrointestinal tract, last year recovered from testicular cancer to resume his career.
His fellow professionals are backing him to show the mettle that makes him such a tenacious competitor on the baize. Jimmy White, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1995, wrote on Twitter: "Absolutely gutted for Ali, praying for you mate." Stuart Bingham, a fellow Essex professional, added: "Thoughts are with @TheCaptain147 and his family. Keep punching mate. All the best x"
Two former world champions echoed the sentiments. Shaun Murphy tweeted: "Devastated for @TheCaptain147 We're all behind you mate." Neil Robertson said: "Shocking news about Ali Carter. Thoughts are with him and his family. Hopefully can make full recovery."
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association chairman, Jason Ferguson, said: "Ali is the toughest competitor I know, and having spoken to him over the last few days I can assure everyone he has the fight to get through the battle ahead.
"I know that the world will be looking forward to Ali returning to action and I am sure that all of our friends, fans and partners will join with me in wishing Ali a full recovery."
Carter had been due to play yesterday in Gloucester in the qualifying stages for the Wuxi Classic tournament, but pulled out. He is a three-time ranking tournament winner, having landed titles at the 2009 Welsh Open, 2010 Shanghai Masters and 2013 German Masters. But he lost to Ronnie O'Sullivan in both his Crucible finals, in 2008 and 2012.
He was diagnosed with testicular cancer last summer but was soon back on tour and played almost a full season, ending at the World Championship in Sheffield, when he beat Xiao Guodong in the first round before bowing out to the eventual winner, Mark Selby, in his next match.
A professional since 1996, Carter is currently ranked 13th in the world and has been as high as No 2 earlier in his career. He is also a qualified pilot, hence his nickname of "The Captain".
In 2006 the three-time Masters champion Paul Hunter died of a rare form of cancer at the age of 27. The Paul Hunter Foundation yesterday stated their support for Carter on Twitter, saying: "Here at PHF HQ we are all sending our wishes to @TheCaptain147 as he faces his battle with cancer."