Craig Jennings speaks about his cancer scare
Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 1:37 PM

Like a lot of men Melbourne coach Craig Jennings knew getting a health check was a good idea but he never quite managed to make an appointment.

He was busy. It wasn’t a priority. He felt fine. He didn’t want to hassle the club doctor.

In 2015 the AFL Coaches Association started promoting regular health checks for its members and actively challenging the coaches to follow through.

This was the spark Jennings needed.

‘I eventually paid attention and started doing it. Just did it on my birthday so I wouldn’t forget’.

On his birthday this year, February 28, Craig had a melanoma removed from the side of his head. A doctor informed him that it's a particularly aggressive form of cancer but he felt they had caught it early enough. Just a few weeks later and it may have been too late.

Jennings has been given the all clear but understands just how lucky he was. 

‘Sometimes we are so busy in coaching that we forget to pay attention to the important things in our own lives. If the AFLCA didn’t keep following up and pushing the message I would never have gone to the doctor and it would have been too late.’

As a coach at Melbourne he is reminded of one of the AFL's greats who wasn't as lucky.

'The message I take from Jimmy Stynes is, I think it was 2008, his wife said to him 'there's a lump, you should get that checked out' and he was too busy, felt healthy, didn't do anything about it and a friend said to get it checked and then a doctor even gave him a referral and he still didn't act until the middle of 2009.

'So that's the story that resonates with me because I was exactly the same and if I was a week or two later I wouldn't be here today'.

The effect on the Melbourne Football Club was just as profound and the club has organised for 30 football department staff undergo skin cancer screenings in May.

Jennings wants to get the message out to all men, not just his fellow AFLCA members.

Stop the excuses. Make the appointment.

2017 Chemist Warehouse Men’s Health Week will run in Round 13 this year - June 12 – 18.

About the AFLCA
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48 Nat Fyfe (Frem)
40 Max Gawn (Melb)
40 Jack Macrae (WB)
38 Tom Mitchell (Haw)
37 Trent Cotchin (Rich)
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32 Rory Laird (Adel)
31 Dustin Martin (Rich)
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