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Tackling and beating the odds

Rugby injuries kick off fundraising journey

 

EMILY IRELAND

Most people only have to learn to walk once in their lifetime.

But Bevan Brown, 23, of Masterton, has had to learn it four times.

The keen rugby player and former Wairarapa College student has suffered a raft of injuries over the past few years, including a broken leg, broken wrist, cracked shoulder, and a major ankle dislocation.

And despite a doctor telling him he would never be able to play rugby again, Bevan persisted, vowing to grow his hair out until he was back in the game.

At the end of this month, after successfully finishing a game of club rugby, Bevan’s 22-inch mane will get the chop – raising money for the White Matter Brain Cancer Foundation.

The charity of choice holds a special place in Bevan’s heart.

His mum, Judy Brown, was diagnosed with a brain tumour the size of a golf ball in 2012.

It caused “a lot of emotional stress to the family”, he said.

“She had an operation to remove it and the tumour was deemed benign.

“After getting through that period and carrying on life almost complication free, we have deemed her one of the lucky ones.

“Not everyone else is.”

Bevan’s own injury journey kicked off in 2014 when he broke his leg in his first game of the rugby season for Massey University.

He went into rehabilitation and had to learn how to walk again.

Then, after plates were taken out of his leg, he had to learn to walk yet another time.

“I noticed that another rugby player who got injured grew their hair out,” Bevan said.

“The following year, I broke my wrist pre-season, right at the start again playing sevens.

“It was from then that I decided to grow my hair out.

“And then the next year, 2016, I cracked my shoulder pre-season.

“At the end of that season, I tried playing sevens for Wairarapa-Bush, and in the pre-season tournament, I dislocated my foot.”

The injury was a subtalar dislocation, a rare ankle injury accounting for about one per cent of all joint dislocations.

“With getting that particular dislocation, there’s a 99 per cent chance that you will absolutely smash the rest of the bones in the foot,” Bevan said.

“None of them smashed, which was lucky.

“So, it was a one per cent probability dislocation, and then a one per cent chance that it wouldn’t break.

“So, it was unlucky and then lucky.”

Bevan didn’t have to have surgery, but it did take six doctors and nurses to put everything back into place.

“I saw a doctor a few weeks later and he told me that I wouldn’t play rugby again – that my best option was to fuse it, which is not ideal.

“Without fusing it, they said the best I could do was maybe hope to run again, but my aim should be to walk normally.

“I left there being like . . . nah.

“I was 21 at that point.

“I struggled for a long time.

“I had nine months off work last year because I couldn’t get through a full day of standing and walking around.”

It was a slow process, but Bevan learned to walk yet again.

“From then, I kept improving and I ended up playing a game locally for Marist.”

That was when Bevan decided to put an end to his hair growth journey – much to his parents’ delight.

He said the motivator to rehabilitate from his injuries was his love of sport.

“Never give up on something you are passionate about.”

Bevan will shave his head this weekend, and his locks will be donated to be made into a wig.

People can donate money to the White Matter Brain Cancer Foundation through Bevan’s Givealittle page: givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/brain-cancer-shave.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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