Mo? on the way back
By Mitchell Dale
Scott Mieni has a fair idea about what hell might be like.
Late last year Mieni, the Coffs Harbour Comets first grade rugby league coach, endured eight days in a 'living hell' that only people who have been through chemotherapy would know about.
He spent most of last November and December undergoing chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital to cure him of Myelofibrosis, a potentially fatal disease that affects the victim's bone marrow.
Happily, the man known as 'Mo' (as in eenie, meenie, minie...) is now on the mend.
In fact, Mieni's recovery has been so strong that he has been back coaching the Comets since January and last week capped his return to health by being named NSW Country coach for a record third straight year.
The former St George and Gold Coast three-quarter admitted the emotions flowed when he was informed of his appointment on Friday.
"Getting my health back for my family (wife Colleen and son Koen) was my number one priority," he said.
"But I love my sport and when I was down there in Sydney I thought a lot about rugby league.
In the darkest days of his treatment, things were rough for Mieni.
"I try to avoid thinking about it," he said.
"It was like nothing I have ever experienced.
"Your body shuts down and all your levels have to go right down to the bottom before they re-build.
"That's when you feel the discomfort."
Mieni didn't go into details of the 'discomfort', but when asked if a living hell was an accurate description, he said: "They're probably good words to describe it."
But he knows he was no Robinson Crusoe.
"I don't want it to sound like I am the only one (who has endured that pain)," he said.
"I would just like to thank all the people who went up to Colleen and wished me luck."
Mieni is not yet back to full health and admits he probably never will be.
"I will see the specialist in mid-March and hopefully I will get the all-clear then," he said.
"I have good days and bad days, but my body has taken to it (the bone marrow transplant) well and the majority of my levels are better than expected.
"I'm still restricted to walking (at Comets training) and a bit of ocean swimming and treading water... (but) I am confident I will beat it, although there will always be a small element of doubt."
The Comets couldn't be happier to have their coach back on deck.
"We have so much admiration for the bloke... not many people could cope with the illness like he has," Comets secretary Neil MacAlpine said.
"He is a big inspiration, if we had a whole side full of blokes with Scott's courage, we would be world beaters."