Titans’ toughest survivor makes return at Nines
MEET Darius Farmer - the Gold Coast Titans' cancer survivor who "can't wait to show the world what I can do".
On Friday, Farmer will pull on a Titans jersey for the first time since overcoming a testicular cancer diagnosis last year.
The 20-year-old forward is part of the Gold Coast's squad for the Perth Nines and is itching to return to top level footy.
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A towering back-rower, Farmer was on the way to an NRL debut last season before being struck by cancer.
Farmer didn't think much after being "hit in the jewels" during a game, but when the swelling failed to subside he sought medical attention.
Already devastated by the shock death of former Titans under-20s teammate Zae Wallace, Farmer was further floored in June when doctors mentioned the dreaded "C" word.
"I was in shock and it was a shock to my family," Farmer told The Courier-Mail.
"I was good friends with Zae. It was really sad for us to hear one of our good mates passed away and it was the same time I found out I had testicular cancer.
"It was two big slaps in the face. I was really mentally battling.
"I had surgery pretty much straight away. I had put in so much hard work then had to take time off to heal. I took it pretty well because I had to keep going. I had a lot of support from my family and friends."
A positive from the diagnosis was the cancer had been caught early and Farmer has made an encouraging recovery.
After 12 weeks on the sidelines, Farmer made a steady playing return with Burleigh's local A-grade team late in the season.
He wasn't able to feature in the Bears' Intrust Super Cup premiership victory, but the Titans showed faith in Farmer by extending his contract until 2021 as he recovered.
Farmer is now fit and firing and the cancer diagnosis has changed his approach to life and football.
"It makes me grateful to be in the moment and always give it 100 per cent," Farmer said.
"Anything in life can be taken away in an instant. I've got to cherish it and be in the moment.
"I'm super determined to play in the NRL this year. I've had this drive in me since I was a young kid.
"I can't wait to show the world what I can do."
Hailing from Wellington in New Zealand, Farmer crossed the ditch as a 12-year-old and came through the grades in Brisbane.
He represented the Queensland under-16s and New Zealand under-18s as he progressed from a "skinny" winger to line-breaking edge forward.
Now 192cm and 102kg, Farmer cuts an imposing figure in the forwards and wants to use the Nines to kickstart his quest for an NRL debut in 2020.
"The Titans signed me when I was about 15 so I've been here for a few years now and this is my second year in the first grade squad," Farmer said.
"I was really tall and skinny growing up so I played wing-centre but I've made my way to the back-row.
"I'm really excited about the Nines but pretty nervous to rub shoulders with these guys. The Nines is a stepping stone for bigger things hopefully.
"All I've got to do is believe in myself, keep training hard and hopefully get my NRL debut some time."
The Titans will face the Raiders on Friday and Wests Tigers on Saturday before a possible finals berth.