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'A dose of perspective': Docherty's brave battle continues to inspire

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Roar Rookie
28th July, 2022
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There are plenty of Hollywood-like storylines in the AFL’s history. Stories of resilience, fighting the odds and coming out victorious.

From Jason McCartney’s return to football in 2003 after the tragic Bali bombings, Adam Ramanauskas’s come back in 2007 after fighting cancer, to Tom Lonergan pulling the boots back on in 2008 after suffering a lacerated kidney. As the 2022 season unfolds so does one of the best sporting stories of this decade, in Sam Docherty.

Coming back from hip complaints, strained tendons, ruptured ligaments and two knee reconstructions pale into insignificance for what Docherty has had to endure with his battles with cancer. Docherty, who will turn 29 in October, has fought cancer not once but twice.

“Unfortunately I seem to keep coming into a new level of ‘the worst thing that’s happening in my life’. My old man passing away, my ACLs, my cancer — I keep getting a dose of perspective that I’d prefer not to learn this way,” he told Channel 7’s Hamish McLachlan.

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“[But] I’m a big believer that whatever happens to you in life will change you and shape you.”

A routine medical check-up in August of last year revealed a recurrence of cancer. Docherty went public with the news to his 41,000 plus followers on Instagram, signing off the post with, “if anything doesn’t feel right with your health please go and get yourself checked. It could save your life.”

According to the Cancer Council of Australia, testicular cancer is “the second most commonly diagnosed cancer, after skin cancer, among young men aged 20–39.”

Given Docherty’s standing within the AFL and his platform, the call to action, for not just players, but all males, was the same kind of humble leadership that saw him become Carlton’s co-captain from 2019 to 2021.

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Along with raising awareness, together with wife Natalie and team mate and close friend Patrick Cripps, Docherty started the #DoItForDoc campaign. A campaign where players, fans and the community alike, shaved their heads in solidarity and made a monetary donation to the Peter Mac Cullum Cancer Foundation.

Sam Docherty of the Blues looks on during the Carlton Blues training session at Ikon Park on December 06, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Sam Docherty of the Blues (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“We are hoping to raise $5000,” wrote Patrick Cripps on the fundraisers website on launch day. The campaign ended up raising $219,126 for the foundation.

Aside from the feel good story of the year off the field, the 2017 All- Australian is having a stellar year on it, and the data backs it up. At the conclusion of Round 19, Docherty’s 2022 stats rank elite in the categories of disposals, kicks, handballs, marks and tackles, and above average for meters gained; all career best statistics.

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Docherty is also a key pillar of a Carlton defensive group that haven’t conceded 100 points in a game all season; Fremantle are the only other team to do so.

To put into context just how remarkable his season has been, prior to the start of this year’s pre-season campaign, Docherty was undergoing 12 weeks of intensive chemotherapy.

Perhaps Carlton will be finals bound for the first time since 2013, perhaps Docherty will take out another club best and fairest John Nicholls medal or perhaps he will don another All-Australian blazer.

Regardless, Docherty continues to be an inspiration to so many, and the humility and openness in sharing his personal journey will no doubt change lives.

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