The family pain inspiring Isaako
Jamayne Isaako has opened up about the toughest battle of his life, with the Broncos winger revealing his father is riddled with cancer and is fighting to stay alive.
When Isaako runs on to Suncorp Stadium for Friday night's blockbuster against the Storm, the Broncos winger will be motivated by his father Taai, who has stunned New Zealand doctors with his refusal to succumb to the terrible disease.
If Isaako's form this season hasn't matched the magic of his sizzling 2018 rookie year, there is a plausible reason.
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Just days before Brisbane's season-opener against the Storm, whom they meet again on Friday on home soil, Isaako was left devastated after learning his 49-year-old father had been diagnosed with nose cancer.
Last month, Isaako received a call from his sister advising him Taai had just weeks to live, prompting a mercy dash to Christchurch before Brisbane's round 15 clash against Newcastle.
Isaako spent a fortnight across the ditch preparing to say goodbye. But Taai is fighting on and Isaako will mark up against Storm flyer Josh Addo-Carr with the blessing of his father.
"It's a week-by-week thing at the moment, I am trying to deal with it the best I can," Isaako said, speaking for the first time about his family ordeal.
"Straight after our Test for Samoa (on June 22), I got a call the next morning from my sister saying the doctors have spoken to her and they said dad wouldn't make it past the week.
"I was bawling my eyes out.
"The first thing I did was call 'Seibs' (Broncos coach Anthony Seibold) that morning and said I need to go home and be with my dad and I booked the flights straight away.
"I left on the next flight to Christchurch."
The Broncos told Isaako to stay as long as he needed, but he made a surprise return against the Warriors in round 17.
Radiation and chemotherapy has bought more time for Taai, who urged his son to return to Australia to do him proud in Broncos colours.
"I was there for two weeks in hospital the whole time with Dad," he said.
"It was really tough seeing everything he went through and that's what is pushing me to compete at training and keep trying hard, to make him proud.
"At one point, he was only given a few weeks to live when I went back home. It's now been a month and he has managed to do well. He is doing his treatment and his chemotherapy and all that soft of stuff is helping him.
"Hopefully if he can keep doing that, he can keep living.
"He's definitely inspiring me. When I went back home, I was planning on staying until I knew he was stable.
"He sat me down and spoke to me and he wanted me to come back to Australia. That's why I came back earlier than expected. He motivates me to keep training and playing and the last two weeks since I've been back it's really shown.
"He is able to watch games at home. He is out of hospital, he only goes in to do his treatment and chemo. Beforehand, he was in hospital for a while because it was pretty severe. He wasn't able to watch games.
"I'm getting more confidence knowing my dad is better."
The 23-year-old Isaako, who plays his 42nd NRL game against the Storm, said his dad's cancer diagnosis was sudden.
"He just collapsed one day at work, so they sent him for tests and that's when they found the cancer in his nose," he said.
"How I've been playing this season hasn't been ideal, but the toll of finding out my dad has cancer, it really affected me and my season, and my mind wasn't where it was supposed to be.
"It started in his nose and it has now spread to his brain and everywhere in his body.
"I've never lost anyone this close, so this is huge for me.
"The doctors have said they can't find a cure and there is no cure for the cancer he's got. If we can keep staying positive and hopeful, then I'm sure he can live a bit longer if he does everything right.
"He is 49, it's his 50th birthday next year so we're hoping he can make it to that.
"The best thing I can do is play and perform to the best of my ability.
"My family is the whole reason why I'm here doing what I'm doing. If I keep playing well for the Broncos, hopefully it will put a smile on Dad's face."