Brothers in Arms - A shared cancer journey

Tuesday 8 June, 2010

Jon and Tim Mannah's Story

From a tightknit Lebanese-Australian family, the Mannah brothers realised their dream of playing NRL; Jon with the Cronulla Sharks and Tim the Paramatta Eels. Jon made his NRL debut in April 2009, starring in 12 games. In July that year, Jon injured his back and when the injury showed no signs of healing, Sharks doctor Dave Givney sounded the alarm.

Jon was sent to Australia's leading spinal surgeon, Dr Richard Parkinson, for tests that later revealed what doctors refer to as a "hot spot'' - a warning sign for cancer.

While his older brother Tim was starring for Parramatta at the Sydney Football Stadium, Jon was 2km in a hospital bed at St Vincent's. Further tests on bone marrow confirmed Mannah had Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"Cancer is such a scary word. It was so unexpected, we were so confident it wouldn't be cancer. Jon was feeling healthy and had no symptoms," Tim said.

"Getting the stats from the doctors and the information they gave me really put things into perspective about how many people have cancer and how seriously it affects people," Jon said.

One in two Australian men will be diagnosed with cancer by age 85. One in three cancers are preventable with the right lifestyle choices, a healthy diet, and regular exercise and health checks.

Staying positive and being physically and mentally strong helped Jon face his cancer challenge. Thanks to early detection and with the support of his family and friends, Jon is now in remission and training to return to the footy field.

"This experience made us realise that we want to help people going through the same thing and raise awareness around men's cancer,'' said Tim.

"There is so much community support around cancer in women. Cancer in men needs the same attention and we need to encourage men to have regular check-ups, as early detection can lead to more effective treatment."

Finally, Jon encourages "We really hope Australia's sporting clubs get behind Call To Arms this July and help raise more funds and awareness."

Throughout July 2010, big name sporting stars like Tim Mannah alongside Socceroos' Tim Cahill, and Essendon's Andrew Welsh are urging sporting clubs across the country to join them in Cancer Council's Call To Arms to help tackle their toughest opponent yet - cancer. Funds raised will help prevent and detect cancers in men, find new treatments, and support men in need by funding Cancer Council's important cancer research, prevention and support programs.

Call To Arms is open to all ages, from junior leagues up to professional clubs from all codes. For more information and to register, visit www.calltoarms.com.au or call 1300 65 65 85.

Updated: 08 Jun, 2010