Hawthorn key forward Jarryd Roughead will receive immune therapy for the next year after multiple spots of melanoma were found on his lung.
A fortnight ago, Hawthorn announced the 29-year-old had suffered a recurrence of melanoma. He had a cancerous growth removed from his lip in 2015.
Roughead, who will not play for the next 12 months, was upbeat and positive about the battle confronting him at a press conference on Tuesday morning, where he was flanked by club doctor Michael Makdissi and Hawthorn’s general manager of football operations, Chris Fagan.
Makdissi said Roughead faced a “serious problem”, but the club was “optimistic of good outcomes”.
He added that the program was “not traditional chemotherapy”, but that it was “pretty full on” and would involve regular injections.
Roughead said the diagnosis rocked him at first, but that he had come to terms with it.
And while he acknowledged it “would be a battle for the next 12 months” it was “not like I’m going anywhere.”
“When the news hit two weeks ago, it was a shock and I didn’t really believe it,” he said.
“We were a bit emotional about it all but now, as we have had the biopsy, seen the doctors and understand what needs to happen, it’s like, “let’s get going”.
“The sooner we start, the sooner it (cancer) is beaten.
“I understand the drugs we need to use are very good and the percentages are good.
“I’m not feeling down at the moment because I know what I have to do.
“I am still going to be out here, I’m still going to be going on trips (with the team) and stuff like that. It’s not like I have to go away.”
Roughead, who thanked the football community and the public for their support, then urged them to stop giving him special attention.
“Treat me normal,” he pleaded.
“When we go to the airport, you (media) don’t have to be taking photos of me, if I’m in the coach’s box, treat me as you normally would.
“I don’t want to go down the street and have all eyes look at you. I don’t need that when we go to games, and the boys don’t either.”
He also said he was desperate to play football again for Hawthorn, responding to a question that pondered if his career was over with: “You can come to my first game back.
“I heard rumours that I would retire today but I’m 29, still have two-and-a-half years in a deal.
“I will still be here and hopefully for longer.”
‘Roughy’s up for the fight’
A former teammate of Roughead’s, triple-premiership winner Brian Lake, told Fox Sports that the forward “looked very optimistic”.
“He’s just going to treat it like another football injury. Roughy’s up for the fight,” he said.
“The most important thing is about his health.
“When you saw when he first came out (walked into the press conference), the smiles and optimism that he had … as he said he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“He’ll be trying to stay fit and that (playing again) is probably the goal he needs.
“He’s just a much-loved person. It’s very hard not to like him.”
Lake added that he expected Roughead would help out with Hawthorn’s coaching set-up, particularly their young forwards, while he fought his battle.
Roughead has played 231 matches for the Hawks, kicking 491 goals.
His last match was the 2015 Grand Final, in which Hawthorn beat West Coast by 46 points to win their third successive premiership.
Roughead had missed the start of the 2016 season due to a knee injury but was expected to return by the end of June.