Newcastle Knights prop/lock and Bowel Cancer Australia Ambassador, Chris Heighington is proud to be growing a beard and supporting Decembeard Australia.
Recognised as tough, reliable and competitive on field, Chris has taken those traits to help tackle Australia's second biggest cancer killer - raising awareness of bowel cancer in the community.
"Both my father and grandfather have been affected by bowel cancer so I'm really proud to be able to support Decembeard Australia," said Chris.
Chris was overseas representing England in the 2011 Rugby League Four Nations when his father Tom first learnt he had bowel cancer. Not wanting to interrupt Chris's international commitments, the family initially kept the news from him.
Since then, Chris’ relationship with his father, who he affectionately calls "Big Dog", has been one of mutual support through the ups and downs of life, including the roller-coaster ride of bowel cancer treatment.
"Dad was diagnosed at 65 years old, and a little bit too late," Chris said.
“I urge people to be aware of the symptoms and see their doctors if anything doesn’t seem right. There's an at-home screening kit you can get to test yourself, or if there are other signs, go out and see a GP.”
"The key is to get on top of it before it's too late," said Chris.
An Ambassador for Bowel Cancer Australia since 2012, this is the third year in a row that Chris is growing a beard for Decembeard - raising awareness of bowel cancer in men, much needed funds and helping the charity beat bowel cancer.
Chris has played more than 300 NRL games with former clubs West Tigers and Cronulla Sharks, and secured a premiership with each. He is an England International, Country NSW and NRL All Star and signed with the Newcastle Knights.
Join Chris and the growing number of Aussie men taking part in the Decembeard movement this December.