Bomber Ramanauskas facing cancer surgery - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bomber Ramanauskas facing cancer surgery

By Guy Hand 06/03/2006 07:30:38 PM Comments (0)

Essendon AFL player Adam Ramanauskas faces major surgery this week to help beat his third, and most serious, recurrence of a rare form of cancer.

Putting any thoughts of a return to the football field on hold, Ramanauskas instead spent Monday demonstrating elite sport's two great intangibles of will-to-win and class in a different context.

Facing a packed media conference, the 25-year-old spoke optimistically about beating cancer - an illness which first struck him three years ago and was discovered again last month during a routine check-up.

Ramanauskas has been diagnosed with fibromyxoid sarcoma - a form of cancer in which tumours are localised in one region of the body.

In Ramanauskas' case, the tumours are in his neck and shoulder area, with doctors recommending immediate surgery to remove the latest growth, followed by aggressive chemotherapy.

Complicating the issue is the location of the tumour, close to what doctors call "vital tissues and structures of the body".

"It's going to be a battle, it's going to be a fight, but it happens to people all around the world," said Ramanauskas, wearing a yellow Live Strong wristband from the foundation of top-level sport's most famous cancer survivor, cyclist Lance Armstrong.

"I'm going to be very sick at times, I'm going to be very sore at times.

"There are going to be times when I'm going to be flat as a tack.

"But I've got to keep picking myself up, and keep getting on with my life."

Ramanauskas first had tumours removed from his neck and shoulder in early 2003 - one of two cancer scares he had that year.

He made a successful playing comeback in 2004, then missed most of last season after knee reconstruction surgery.

But last month - just weeks after his wedding - a further tumour was discovered.

Neither Ramanauskas nor his football club has put any timeframe on a possible comeback to add to his 111-game AFL career which began in 1999.

"To be honest, it (a return to football) hasn't even crossed my mind," he said.

"My main objective is to get better.

"When football comes back on the radar, we'll deal with that then. Until that happens, I'm just trying to get better."

Ramanauskas said he would try to remain involved around the club as much as possible this season in a non-playing capacity.

Essendon chief executive Peter Jackson said the club was committed to ensuring that happened.

"We take as much inspiration from what he's doing and how he's handling it as he takes from the club," Jackson said.

Saying his illness would not stop him "being the cheeky little prick" he normally was, Ramanauskas admitted to not looking forward to the surgery, nor a stay in hospital, but refused to wallow in self-pity or anger.

Instead he preferred to dwell on the thousands of messages from football fans, the support of his teammates and new wife Belinda, his love for his football club and his trust in the medical team that will treat his cancer.

"It's not a thing to be angry about," Ramanauskas said.

"If you waste a lot of your energy on being angry, you're going down the wrong path.

"I'm more optimistic about it, and I think you've got to be.

"If you don't believe there's going to be a cure, well, one's not going to come up."

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