Operation keeps Brian in touch
By MITCHELL DALE
COFFS Harbour touch footballer Brian Hopwood lost his stomach to cancer in June this year, but he still has plenty of guts.
Just four months after having his entire stomach removed, Hopwood returned to the touch football field to help NSW Over-45s beat Queensland in the National Touch Rugby Association State of Origin.
But Hopwood didn't just play, he carved up the Queenslanders, his performances earning selection in the Australian Over-45s side to tour New Zealand next year.
Doctors discovered a centimetre tumour on Hopwood's stomach in early June and immediately sent him to Brisbane to have it removed.
"Originally the doctor said he would take 70 per cent of it," Hopwood said.
"But when he opened me up my stomach was a mess so he took the whole thing out and joined my oesophagus to my small intestine."
However, despite losing both his parents to cancer, Hopwood remained philosophical throughout the ordeal.
"I lost my mother to stomach cancer and father to bowel cancer, so when they told me, I just said 'what are we going to do about it?'," he said.
"I never said 'why has this happened to me'.
"It is just like in business, you have to deal with whatever is out there."
Doctors told Hopwood not to play any sport for nine months after the operation.
"But I just couldn't stay off the field," he said.
Hopwood's first game back was the State of Origin series.
"On the day it was terrific, but I was crook throwing up for the next week," he said.
"I just over did it.
"It was the same as anyone who has just had an operation, it knocked me around a bit."
Hopwood has lost 23kg as a result of having his stomach removed, but he knows he is one of the lucky ones.
"I went to the doctors because I was getting dizzy and blacked out a couple of times," he said.
"That was completely unrelated, but after I told the doctor about my family history, he suggested we check just in case.
"They said I would have been dead in nine months if it went undetected.
"I am extremely lucky."
Hopwood also thanks his lucky stars that he doesn't need any post-operation treatment.
"They removed my stomach and that was it, I don't have cancer anymore," he said.
"I don't need chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
"I whinge about throwing up once or twice a week, but that is nothing compared to the people who need chemotherapy."
While Hopwood welcomed his Australian selection, his major goal is to again make the National Oztag team.
"I want to get back into Oztag and make the Australian side for that again," he said.
"Then I will think I've come full circle."
Hopwood was one of 45 Coffs Harbour players selected in 12 Australian NTRA sides.