Date: 22nd December 2021 at 12:46pm
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The last 18 months have been filled with a mixture of emotions for Arsenal and Scotland defender Jen Beattie, with changing fortunes for the Gunners, and off-field battles putting football itself into perspective. 

In October 2020, Beattie was diagnosed with cancer and began radiotherapy shortly after. Fast forward to now, and the Scotland international has overcome the cruelest of diseases, and has her friends and family to thank.

“I think I just wanted normality,” she says, explaining her decision to keep playing through the most gruelling of treatment.

“I know everybody has had a tough year due to Covid, but for me to not be around family was a hundred times harder than it normally would have been.

“I just wanted to keep going into training and have that normal feeling of going to work and being around mates and teammates.

“They were my support system and they were what got me through it.”

Thankfully, Beattie has since been given the all clear, much to the relief of her, her friends and her family.

On the pitch, the last 12 months have also offered a mixture of highs and lows and, while her illness put the importance of football into perspective, she is still focussed fully on Arsenal.

“Most of us want to be lifting trophies so it’s been a disappointing couple of seasons since we last won the league.

“I do think that we can push on this year, though.”

Arsenal are doing exactly that at present, sitting top of the Women’s Super League, four points ahead of second-placed Chelsea.

Despite disappointing defeats in the Champions League and, most notably, in the FA Cup final (last season’s) against the Blues at the start of Decemeber, things are looking up for Beattie both on and off the pitch.

Read the full interview with Jen Beattie inside the 2022 Shoot Annual,  available in selected high street retailers and online now

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