Sport AFL Ready to play: Jarryd Roughead given the cancer all-clear by doctors

Ready to play: Jarryd Roughead given the cancer all-clear by doctors

Jarryd Roughead
Jarryd Roughead has received the best possible news from his doctors. Photo: Getty
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Christmas came a few weeks early for Jarryd Roughead, who delivered the news that all AFL fans had been praying for – he is “cancer free”.

The Hawthorn forward revealed on Tuesday that a recent check-up confirmed he had responded well to immunotherapy treatment and doctors have told him he can now “get back to life as normal”.

“I’ve had a complete response from the treatment so far and (the doctor has) given me the all clear to get back into living a normal life,” Roughead told Hawthorn’s website.

“The complete response means the lumps have gone, the tumours have gone. The drugs I have had have worked and have killed everything. That’s what we wanted from the start.

“I am cancer-free, and that’s what you wanted to hear.”

Roughead has not played at any level since Hawthorn’s 2015 grand final win.

Although reluctant to put a date on his return to the AFL, he said he was looking forward to playing again as soon as next season.

Roughead underwent a new immune-based treatment, rather than traditional chemotherapy, to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells.

The new treatment can be more effective, but patients can still experience serious side-effects, such as inflammation of the eyes, lungs and liver.

“Jarryd is a champion athlete and he brought that to his fight against melanoma,” Professor Grant McArthur, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre’s head oncologist, told reporters.

“He did have some pretty bad side-effects there at one point and was able to use his determination and grit – qualities that make him a champion – to get through that.

Jarryd Roughead
Jarryd Roughead takes part in pre-season training at Waverley Park this week. Photo: Getty

“So Jarryd should look forward to getting on with life. Certainly from a cancer specialist’s perspective, Jarryd has the all-clear to return to AFL football.”

Roughead is expected to to get precautionary checks every three months, as he makes a gradual return to the game.

The 29-year-old trained on Monday morning as the Hawks returned for their pre-season and he received the good news later that afternoon.

The four-time premiership player had a melanoma cut from his lip last year and in May tests showed the cancer had spread to his lungs.

Roughead was already out of action for the first half of this season because of a knee injury.

“After the last one with my lip, we knew we had surveillance and check-ups and that’s what got this one in the first place,” he said.

“So it’s not as if I’m going back to see if I’ve still got it, it’s what is part of the deal now.

“That will go on for a couple of years and then obviously extend the longer we go.”

The 231-game veteran is about six months ahead of initial forecasts for his treatment, but said he is still a long way from being ready for an AFL return.

 Jarryd Roughead
Roughead is one of the most popular Hawks players. Photo: Getty

“I don’t think you can put a timeline on it straight away,” he said.

“I haven’t been able to hit some bodies and have a muck around on the field – that’s as much a release as it is a job.

“I’m pretty much starting from scratch.

“(But) we’re on the right road and right path to hopefully playing footy again.

“I am 29 and still able to play … for it to be taken away, yes, it sucked during that time but you get a fair bit perspective on life and understand that footy is not everything. I thought it was for 12 years, but once you go through something like this you realise footy is nothing really. Being there for your family, that is the most important thing.”

The social media reaction

Naturally, AFL friends and foes alike were delighted with the outcome.

Even non-Hawks fans forgot their club allegiances.

-Brandon Cohen, with AAP

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