Rebekah Stott: Making an Inspiring Return To Football

by Catherine Paquette

To any fan of the W-League, the name Rebekah Stott (pictured above on her return to the sport by Rachel Bach) is well known.  The twenty-eight year old has played in Australia’s top league for the better part of a decade, winning the league five times while representing the Brisbane Roar, the Melbourne Victory and since 2015, Melbourne City.

Playing abroad is also not new to Stott.  The Kiwi-born Australian-raised footballer had played in Germany, the US and Norway.  She was supposed to be starting a new chapter in her footballing career with Brighton & Hove Albion in the English FA Women’s Super League this past season.

However, prior to departing something was not right. It was last June that Stott had found a little lump above her collarbone. After an inconclusive biopsy in Melbourne, where she lived at the time, she departed for her new club. The lump did not go away though, it kept growing.

By October, now in the UK and playing for Brighton, she returned to the doctor who booked her another needle biopsy.  Due to COVID-19’s effect on the British medical system, Stott would not find out until January that the lump was most likely Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.   

Within 26 hours she was on a plane headed back to Australia. It was while she was in quarantine in Sydney that the final results came in and the diagnosis was confirmed from the UK.  It was in fact Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which is a form of blood cancer.

After in-vitro treatment to preserve her fertility, Stott started her treatments last March at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.  The treatment included an aggressive six cycles of chemotherapy.

She made the brave decision to share and document her journey along the way, setting up and keeping an online blog of her Lymphoma battle at https://www.beatitbystotty.com.

Stott also raised more than AU$22,000 for the Australian Leukaemia Foundation as part of the Greatest Shave campaign when she said good bye to her hair last April. 

She has since completed her treatment cycles, and is awaiting a PET scan to determine if she is in complete remission.  These results should come on the same day as the Football Ferns play the Matildas in the opening match of the Tokyo Olympic Games. 

As Stott represented both Australia at the youth level and New Zealand at the senior level, she has described the match as a special game, filled with friends on both sides of the opposition. Stott herself has already represented the Football Ferns at the London and Rio Olympics, and has 81 senior caps for New Zealand. 

She will arguably be very missed by the Ferns, both for her skills on the field, and her leadership on and off it.  Football is not over though for Stott.  

Following the go ahead from her doctors she contacted her best friend who also happens to be the head coach of the Melbourne-based Bulleen Lions.

It was in Tuesday night’s match that Stott took her first steps back into football by being subbed in for the Lions’.  

When describing the moment on Twitter she stated: 

“Words can’t describe the feelings and emotions. It’s been without doubt the most challenging period of my life, but it was so special to return to the pitch and you certainly can’t wipe that smile!”

Welcome back to the pitch Stotty!

You can follow Stott’s journey through her blog:

https://www.beatitbystotty.com/journey/euphoria

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