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Hawks spearhead Roughead now cancer-free

Football

Hawthorn star Jarryd Roughead has declared himself cancer-free and is back in full training for an AFL comeback.

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Roughead revealed yesterday that he’d had a complete response to powerful and cutting edge treatment he’d received at Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre for melanoma.

But the four-time premiership star is putting no timeline on when he might return to the AFL, noting he has not played at any level since the 2015 grand final win.

“I am – I’m cancer free and that’s what you wanted to hear,” he told the club website.

“It’s a pretty good feeling.

“I’ve had a complete response from the treatment so far and he (the doctor) has given me the all-clear to get back into living normal life.

“(I can) get back to doing things that I want, which is playing footy and living my life, which is what the plan was from the start.

“It reassures me that things are all good and we can get back to normal life.”

Roughead underwent new immune-based treatment rather than traditional chemotherapy that stimulates 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 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.

“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.”

McArthur will continue to work with Hawthorn medical staff as the 29-year-old makes a gradual return to the game.

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

The ruck-forward 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.

Latest studies on patients who have received immune-based treatment have shown few relapses, but Roughead will continue to have precautionary checks every three months.

“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 still had no idea how long it would take to be ready for an AFL return.

“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.”

Former Essendon premiership player Adam Ramanauskas, another AFL player well-known for his cancer battle, yesterday urged Hawthorn fans to temper their expectations of an early-season return for Roughead.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, before Roughead revealed he is now cancer free, Ramanauskas told RSN radio: “What can happen, if he pushes it too hard, too early, that can be a major setback for weeks at a time, not just a day or two.”

“I think he’s out there, he’s enjoying training and he’s seeing how it goes,” he said.

“There’s a lot of issues around getting your heart-rate too elevated in the early stages of his recovery. He’ll need to be very, very mindful of that.”

Ramanauskas has been an advocate for cancer-sufferers since he was diagnosed with a tumour in 2003 before recovering to return to senior football.

He said it was up to Roughead and doctors to determine his workload, but his own progress back to health was slow.

“There’s no real hard and fast rules about what you can and can’t do,” Ramanauskas said.

“So it’ll be really up to Jarryd to say, ‘yeah, I feel good, I can keep going’ or ‘no, I’m not feeling good at these stages’.

“I know for myself when I came back from cancer, there were just periods where I trained for a couple of days and have to have two or three days off training just because you would exhaust yourself.”

-AAP

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