Bruce McAvaney. Photo: SuppliedLegendary sports commentator Bruce McAvaney has revealed he has leukaemia.
McAvaney, 63, has been fighting the disease for more than two years, his employer Channel Seven reported on Friday.
He was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) after having a routine blood test.
In a statement aired by Seven, McAvaney saidhe felt well but the serious illness “could jump out of the ground at any moment”.
“I don’t expect it will. But I am living a complete life with no restrictions,” he said.
Uncharacteristically, McAvaney pulled out of any role in Seven’s annual coverage of the n Open tennis tournament in January. He said at the time he needed to take a break after a busy year which included travelling to Rio for the Olympics.
His illness was partly the reason he did not call the tennis, Seven said on Friday.
However, McAvaney will continue working despite his diagnosis, having been involved in the network’s preparations for the new AFL season in recent weeks.
The veteran broadcaster addressed the entire Seven AFL commentary team in the network’s Melbourne boardroom in mid-February.
His speech to the team has been described as a “spine-tingling team address”.
He is also due to work at the Golden Slipper race in Sydney on Saturday.
McAvaney is married to television journalist Anne Johnson and the couple have two children, Sam, 22, and Alexandra, 19.
He was awarded a Medal of the Order of (OAM) in 2002 for service to sports broadcasting, and the community through charitable and sporting organisations. He was inducted into the Sport Hall of Fame the same year.
A South n, McAvaney rose to prominence when he moved to Melbourne in the 1980s after beginning his broadcasting career as a racecaller in Adelaide.
He was a host and caller on Channel Ten’s coverage of the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, as well as covering several other major events for the network.
McAvaney then moved to Seven, where he has worked for more than a quarter of a century, playing a key role in the network’s coverage of every summer Olympic Games since 1992, with the exception of the 2012 London Olympics.
Arguably his most prominent role has been as a host and caller of AFL games for Seven, as well as anchor of the network’s coverage of the Melbourne Cup.
McAvaney became Seven’s frontman for the network’s marquee Friday night football coverage, while also calling most grand finals and hosting most Brownlow medal counts since the early 1990s. His AFL calling was however interrupted from 2002 to 2006 when Seven lost the broadcast rights.
He has also been a longtime commentator and host of Seven’s n Open coverage, as well as being involved with the network’s spring racing carnival broadcasts.
CLL is the most common type of leukaemia and men aged over 60 are most at risk, according to the Leukaemia Foundation.
For many people, CLL remains stable for many months and years and has little, if any impact on their lifestyle or general health, the foundation said. However, it is only rarely able to be cured.
“Around 30 per cent of people diagnosed with CLL never require any treatment for their disease and can survive for many years despite their diagnosis,” it said.
“For others, the leukaemic cells multiply in an uncontrolled way.”