Dylan's legacy lives on

Dylan Tombides passed away on this day two years ago, but his legacy lives on in the shape of the DT38 Foundation...

DT38 Foundation was founded to raise awareness of testicular cancer, following the passing of promising young West Ham United striker Dylan Tombides at the age of just 20 on this day in 2014.

The impact made by ‘Dyl’, as he was known by all, will never been forgotten.

And the mission of the DT38 Foundation in tackling the stigma surrounding male health issues will lead to more men getting checked for cancer as a routine, not as an emergency.

Dylan’s eye for goal and natural flair led to comparisons with Harry Kewell in his native Australia and underlined a talent that saw him shoot his way through the Academy of Football.

Off the pitch, he was an ‘inspiration for life’, ‘one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met’ and a ‘special, special lad’ by his Hammers teammates.

But it was in 2011, while representing Australia in the U17 World Cup in Mexico, that Dylan was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

With a determination and bravery that astounded everyone around him, he continued to train harder than ever while battling the disease.

In 2012, against all the odds and after months of grueling chemotherapy, Dylan made his first-team debut for the Hammers in a Carling Cup tie against Wigan Athletic – what should have been the start of a glittering career.

On April 18, 2014, cancer took Dylan’s life, but it can never take his legacy.

As tribute to a young man who gave his all to the club right to the end, West Ham United has retired the number 38 shirt and afforded Dylan a place alongside Hammers legends at Champions Place after being nominated by fans.

The DT38 Foundation was launched by the Tombides family in 2015 to raise awareness of the risks of testicular cancer.

At the heart of the cause lay three key messages.
  • Drive the self-awareness campaign for the early detection of testicular cancer.
  • Focus on youth education through various teaching programmes aligned to national curriculum.
  • Provide opportunities linked to fun and accessible activities within the community.
Tracy Tombides, Dylan’s mother, firmly believes her son’s outcome could have been different if he had been diagnosed earlier.

“Our mission is to raise awareness and change the stigma associated with men’s health issues with a focus on testicular cancer,” she revealed.

DT38 Foundation has set fundraising targets which will be used to recruit a full-time administrator, purchase a medical van equipped with an ultrasound unit for cancer screening and publish ‘Didge’s Kingdom’ an educational book for schools to raise awareness of testicular cancer and share Dylan’s inspiring story.

She added: “We aim to do this achieve our goals through awareness campaigns, educational programmes and opportunities for the youth of our community, to help shape a generation of young adults who are self-aware about their health and wellbeing.

“If we had known about testicular cancer and what we needed to do to catch it early, we would have insisted on an ultra sound when we went to the GP. It breaks our heart to think that this could have been prevented.

“Dylan was robbed of a future that he dreamed of as a young boy. It robbed Taylor of a brother and it robbed my husband and I of watching our beautiful son grow and fulfil his dreams.

“Please do not let this happen to your son, brother, friend or father. If you have a concern with your testicles please see a doctor straight away and insist on an ultrasound – it may just save your life.”