The three-time All-Australian — including this season — and triple club champion at Alberton had no indication of the cancer until after the Power’s season ended on September 9.
He had surgery to remove a tumour as soon as possible after diagnosis and will also have a short course of precautionary chemotherapy.
The 29-year-old attended Port Adelaide’s best-and-fairest presentation at the Convention Centre on Friday night with his pregnant wife Annabel, and was at the Morphettville Racecourse with teammate Ollie Wines on Saturday.
Port Adelaide Power list manager Jason Cripps said yesterday that the news was a “shock and puts everything into perspective”.
“He had great support from his family and the club,” he said.
“We just hope he makes a speedy recovery which I am sure he will. I understand he is in really good spirits and has a lot of support around him.”
Robbie Gray is expected to be fit for the start of pre-season training in November. Picture: Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
The mercurial midfielder/forward is expected to be fit for the start of pre-season training in November, just as Melbourne forward Jesse Hogan returned to AFL footy in July this year seven weeks after testicular cancer surgery in May.
Although Gray’s surgery was deemed a success, Port Adelaide Football Club doctor Mark Fisher said chemotherapy was still important.
“The chemotherapy is a preventive measure to significantly reduce the chance of cancer returning,” Dr Fisher said.
Former Crows great Tyson Edwards, who had surgery for testicular cancer in 2009 before retiring after 321 games in 2010, worked with Gray as an assistant coach at the Power from 2011-2015.
Edwards said he had left a message on Gray’s phone offering encouragement and support. “He’ll get through it,” Edwards said.
“He’s got to look after himself particularly in the next six weeks or so and it’s important that he gets that rest even if he thinks he doesn’t need it.
“But the positive thing about being in a footy club environment is he will have great support from his mates to help him through it as well as from his friends and family and the success rates of this are very high.”
Gray and wife Annabel are expecting their first child this year.
Robbie and Annabel Gray at Port Adelaide’s Best and Fairest on Friday. Picture: Matt Loxton/AAPSource:News Corp Australia
Sportsmed SA surgeon Dr David Martin, who is also chief medical officer at SANFL premier Sturt, said the recovery rate of this type of surgery was relatively fast.
“It’s usually straightforward surgery in that you don’t need to go through layers of abdominal muscle,” Dr Martin said.
“Cancer can be all levels of aggressiveness but typically this is one of the more easily treated and if they (Port Adelaide) are saying he will have a short course of precautionary chemotherapy, then I don’t see any reason it will hold him back (from returning to football soon).”
News of Gray’s cancer diagnosis inspired support from rival AFL clubs and players on Monday including messages on social media from Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield, Geelong captain Joel Selwood and West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui.
Edwards was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2009 after noticing a change in size and said high-profile patients such as Gray served as a reminder to everyone to be aware of possible symptoms and take care of themselves.
“We’re not all immune to it, it doesn’t matter who you are, it can get anyone,” Edwards said.
“It’s different for everyone but from what I was told teenage boys can be at high risk so it’s important to be aware, if there is discomfort or soreness that is not normal it’s important to get it looked at.”
Edwards didn’t have chemo after surgery and had regular check ups for five years afterwards which have now finished.
“I still think about it regularly, it’s like any traumatic experience, and there is no right or wrong way of dealing with it but I would just say to talk about it and don’t try to keep it to yourself if you’re battling.”
Tyson Edwards has reached out to Robbie Gray. Picture: Campbell Brodie.Source:News Corp Australia
Port Adelaide football manager Chris Davies said the club would do everything possible to support Gray and his family.
“Robbie’s health and wellbeing is, as always, the most important thing to us,” Davies said.
“The treatment isn’t expected to interfere with Robbie’s ability to begin pre-season training in November.”
Gray played 23 games this year, finished fourth in Port Adelaide’s best-and-fairest and was named in the All-Australian team.