Melbourne Demons champion Jim Stynes, 45, died after an enduring and inspiring fight with cancer. His wife, Samantha, and children, Matisse and Tiernan, survive him.
This Irish-born gentleman stole the hearts and earned the respect of Footy fans and Australians alike. The end of Jim’s two-year battle with a rare melanoma was "pain-free, dignified and peaceful," Samantha said. She added that Jim’s “lesson was that life was to be challenged and treasured."
A Victorian and Melburnian of the Year, Jim left his mark on the field when he became the first international player to earn the prestigious Brownlow Medal in 1991. He was also an Order of Australia recipient.
Jim’s heart exceeded that of the goal lines. He touched the lives of countless young Australians as the cofounder of Reach. This organization is recognized as making a positive impact for youth across Australia.
"On behalf of everyone at Reach, our deepest sympathies go to Jim’s equally courageous wife Sam, their two young children, Matisse and Tiernan, and the entire Stynes family," said Reach Chairman Don McLardy in a release. "They will all forever be a part of the Reach family."
Since Jim announced his diagnosis in July 2009, it was a highly publicised journey. The choice to publicly fight a battle so many have to endure earned him the respect and favour of those similarly affected. A televised documentary revealed how deeply the cancer changed Jim’s and his family’s lives.
Jim used twitter to stay connected with those through his journey. In his passing, fans, believers, survivors and friends are now sharing their condolences.
The AFL tweeted: The AFL is saddened to learn of the passing of an icon of our game, Jim Stynes. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Jim leaves the message to cherish life and what is truly important:
"I have had an experience that in some ways, I am very blessed," he once said. "I have had an insight that not many people get. When you are faced with that prospect, it does make you sit back, stop and go OK, what is really important now? You realise your family - my kids and my wife Sam - they are everything to me. It's not just enough to say it - you've got to live it."