An initial melanoma was discovered on Roughead’s lip last July. The power forward took leave from football at the time to have the cancer surgically cut out, with Doctors at the time giving him the all clear. Roughead was then subject to 6-monthly scans and check-ups, as well as regular skin checks from club doctors.
“He’s been feeling perfectly well and fine… He has four small spots on his lung. He had a biopsy on one of those spots and it confirmed the diagnosis of melanoma.”“It’s a serious problem, but we’re optimistic of a good outcome.”“He’ll be starting immunotherapy, and that’ll go for a period of 12 months.”“The treatment is one of the immune therapies; it’s not traditional chemotherapy. It’s really changed the landscape of melanoma treatment.”“They’re expecting a really good result [but] the treatment is pretty full on. We’ll be monitoring the whole time.”
Roughead, for his part, seemed in particularly good spirits, even given the circumstances.
“Obviously when the new hit two weeks ago it was shock, and [I] didn’t really believe it. But I thought ‘Righto, let’s get going.’ The sooner that we start, the sooner we get this beaten and it’s over. [So it’s] head down and bum up, really.”“The doc was pretty upfront with what happened and what needs to happen.”“I’m still gonna be the same old me. Unfortunately I just can’t play. I’m not feeling down at the moment.”
Roughead also shot down rumours that the illness would force him to retire from football immediately, remarking to one reporter who asked him about it that she could come see him at his first game back.
“I heard rumours I was gonna retire today. I’m 29, still got two-and-a-half years on a deal. Still gonna be here for two-and-a-half years, and that’s the plan.”“It’s not like I’m going anywhere.“
Roughead’s fair complexion and red hair are obvious risk factors for melanoma, and he stated the importance for people to have regular skin checks and be vigilant about sun safety, particularly in Australia where the rate of melanoma is so proportionately high.
“I’ve got red hair and fair skin, obviously that doesn’t work well for the sun. I guess if everyone can get checked, that’s a good thing.“
Roughead will report to the Peter Mac specialist cancer centre to begin treatment imminently, where it’s possible he’ll receive the revolutionary immunotherapy drug Keytruda, which was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme a mere 12 months ago. It works by targeting a protein on the surface of immune cells that previously prevented them from attacking a melanoma; in effect “unlocking” the body’s own immune system so it can go to work on a cancer cell.