It has been the battle of his life, with former young Sharks NRL squad member Fine Kula yesterday claiming an emphatic points victory in his fight against cancer.
Diagnosed with medulloblastoma at the start of 2020, which is an aggressive form of brain cancer, Kula who at the time was training fulltime with the Sharks NRL squad, spent months in hospital, endured 10 months of intense chemotherapy, then further hospital visits, with a ‘Fight for Fine’ campaign launched to assist the now 22-year-old as family, friends and teammates rallied around.
In the early days the prognosis wasn’t good, however some 12 months ago with a fighting spirit, plenty of support and an intense faith, come the end of September Kula was given some positive news.
"(The doctors) thought Fine would never walk out of Westmead Hospital. The doctor says he is clear, there is nothing to talk about. No tumor, no cancer, bone marrow clean, organs clean. Blood count it's clear. We just couldn't believe it," Fine’s father Solomon said at the time.
And now comes the latest development which doubles down on the previous positive diagnosis, with Kula officially in remission.
“This has been a journey. But I’m happy to say it ends today. I go into remission so my battle with cancer is officially over,” he began.
“There are so many people I wanna (sic) thank, family, friends, the rugby league community, Endeavour Sports High, the Cronulla Sharks.
“I am forever grateful for the support during my battle with cancer”
He then signed off with 1/11/2021, a date he will long remember as the day he received the much-welcomed news.
On deck at the Sharks Academy fields with training kit on and ready to impart his knowledge on the next crop of young Sharks hopefuls, Kula explained the procedure going forward.
“The chemo is finished and they’ve taken me off all my medication,” he said. “They will take the shunt out of my chest soon but the one in my head will stay for a while. That will need surgery to take it out but I’ll wait a while before having that done.”
Sharks Development and Pathways Manager Glenn Brailey, welcomed Kula on his arrival at day one for the Sharks Junior Representative teams, where the former Sharks standout will act as a specialist forwards coach for the Matthews Cup, SG Ball and Tarsha Gale Cup teams.
“He told me when we he arrived for Junior rep training and we both got a bit emotional,” Brailey said. “I told him how fantastic the news was and now we’re going to put plenty of time and energy into making him a coach.”
When the announcement was posted through Kula’s social media channels, there was understandably an outpouring of support and well wishes.
“Fights over now. So proud and happy for you @kula_fts . Still gets emotional thinking about the journey. Your character and strength was tested and you came out on top. God is good my man ❤️ still living this dream for the both of us,” Ronaldo Mulitalo replied.
Similar sentiments were expressed by a host of current and former Sharks NRL squad members, most who had either trained or played alongside Kula, including Andrew Fifita, Will Kennedy, Royce Hunt, Teig Wilton, Josh Dugan, Jackson Ferris, Jonaiah Lualua, Jensen Taumoepeau, Ava Seumanufagai, Isaac Lumelume, Josh Carr and Monty Raper, amongst many more from the rugby league and wider community.