Retired sports commentator Sandy Roberts is in front of the camera again — but this time he’s doing it to save lives and maybe even his own.
Roberts, who rose from a cadet journalist at Perth’s 6PR to become the face of Channel Seven sport for more than 40 years, is back for an intensely personal mission — he’s battling a rare, incurable blood cancer and has launched a campaign to raise funds for desperately needed research.
“This is my greatest call — help me find a cure for myeloma,” he said.
After a fall about a year ago, X-rays revealed the 73-year-old had not only broken his ribs but he also had cancer.
“The doctor finished up saying: ‘Of course you’ve also got cancer.’ Well you could’ve blown us down with a feather. I mean we had absolutely no idea,” Roberts said.
Sometimes you want to fall into a hole and there were times when I’d go into the bedroom and cry.
“If I hadn’t fallen down the stairs I wouldn’t have known I had multiple myeloma.”
Haematologist Andrew Spencer said most people had never heard of the blood cancer which develops from plasma cells in the body’s bone marrow.
“It’s one of the few cancers in the 21st century that remains incurable,” he said.
Roberts always found humour on the job but chemotherapy left him ill in hospital. “I lost weight and I was weak and lethargic … yeah it wasn’t pleasant,” he said.
His wife Carolyn said there was no other option than to keep going.
“Sometimes you want to fall into a hole and there were times when I’d go into the bedroom and cry,” she said.
“I’m sure Sandy did the same but you’ve got to keep going.”
Mrs Roberts went into research mode and found her way to Myeloma Australia. Now feeling strong with a new treatment, Roberts decided to become the face of a myeloma awareness campaign.
“Experts within Myeloma Australia and around the world are saying that a cure is very close … so fingers crossed it’s really close,” he said.
The broadcaster retired from TV commentary in 2019 after a storied career marked by such memorable moments as “Matera sets sail for home and the Eagles hit the front” during the 1992 AFL grand final and “what more can you say” when Gary Ablett Sr kicked goal of the year.
Roberts left the commentary box having called more than 1100 AFL/VFL games, 19 grand finals and eight summer Olympics.