#TackleTheToughStuff: Cameron Scott

20 May 2022

#TackleTheToughStuff: Cameron Scott

At 14 years old, Cameron Scott was diagnosed with diabetes. Despite the initial shock and apprehension of receiving a life-long diagnosis, he’s now thriving as a professional rugby league player and proof that our setbacks often don’t define us.

In February 2014 after a six-month period of illness unaware that diabetes was the cause, Scott crashed and was admitted to hospital. He had gone from an 11-stone youngster down to six and a half stone at his lightest – and he knew something wasn’t quite right.

“I was ill, and everyone knew I was ill, but we didn’t really know what the reason was. I eventually crashed in February and that’s when I got diagnosed.

“I was kind of relieved because I knew something wasn’t right, but I had no idea what it could be. But then on the flip side it was a pretty intense way that I found it."

Scott spent 24 hours in hospital whilst tests were run to find out what was causing his illness. It was a nervy and anxious wait for a definitive answer.

“For a day, I remember me and my mum in the hospital not really knowing what to say to each other because nobody knew what was going on. It was a bit of a tough one for that initial 24 hours.”

Shortly after his diagnosis, Scott had the chance to attend trials at Bradford Bulls hoping to pursue a career in rugby league. At the time, he was still recovering from the illness that had plagued him for months prior and physically, he wasn’t up to scratch.

“I’d already been picked up by Bradford initially and invited for some trials. The trials were set three weeks after the week I was diagnosed with diabetes. I’d come out of hospital being on what felt like deaths door, went to those trials obviously unfit and in a really bad state.

“I ended up getting turned away from those trials and that really hit hard. I knew I wasn’t in the best shape or position to put my best foot forward and that was a smack in the teeth.

“I was confident in my ability and really looking forward to it, and then it got to the time and I just thought, ‘I’m going to have to go because I can’t give the opportunity up’. But in the back of my mind, I knew that I wasn’t in the best position to excel.”

Not one to kick stones or feel sorry for himself, Scott’s focus turned to improving his health. He removed himself from all sport – which had consumed most of his life before the diagnosis – in order to get better.

“It was probably beneficial for me. I threw myself back into sport just to get the trials done but once it happened, I thought, I’ve not made it this time and just focused on my health. I took myself out of any sport, stepped back and cracked on with what I’d been told to do by the hospital.

“I just stepped back and got myself back to being healthy. And then after that is when I started playing again. That was really beneficial, having time to just focus on my health and not try to just crack on when I clearly wasn’t ready.

“I’d like to think it’s made me pretty resilient. No matter what happens to me physically to my body, I’m never going to be as bad as what I was at that point.”

Now, Scott is flourishing in a physically demanding, professional sporting environment. A former England Academy captain, he’s come of age during the last two seasons at Hull FC and manages his diabetes almost effortlessly on a daily basis.

“When it comes to gym and things like that, it’s about stripping a bit of the insulin back so it’s not counteracting other hormones. And when you’re going out for a flogging in pre-season, it’s about making sure you’re not going to crash in the middle of a session because you’ve got your insulin levels and sugar levels wrong.

“It is a pretty full-on thing to keep on top of but I’ve been doing it that long now, I know what works for me. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still sessions that are sometimes a bit harder than you expect and it takes more physically out of you and you can have a bit of a wobble.

“But that’s just a case of me running into the changing rooms, having a handful of jelly babies and cracking on after that!”

Scott didn’t have to look far to find solace and familiarity when he joined the Black & Whites in 2018. Hull FC legend Richard Horne, who was part of the clubs coaching staff when Scott arrived at the club, played most of his career with diabetes. It was a welcome reassurance that someone of Horne’s stature had been there and done it as well.

“The career he had in Super League and at Hull was unbelievable – he’s one of the most well-known halves that Super League’s seen.

“We used to have little discussions here and there – nothing to end to end because every individual is different – so what worked for him on a gameday and at training might not work for me. But it was familiar ground and we’d sometimes just end up having a laugh about daft situations we’d end up in because of low sugars and stuff like that.

“He’d been there and done it already. And what worked for him might not work for me, but it was just good to touch base with someone who’s been through it as well."

Scott hit the ground running at the start of the 2022 after winning Hull FC's Young Player of the Year award last season. However, an ankle injury in Round 3 put a halt to his impressive progress.

But thanks to his uncompromising attitude and resilience, Scott has used the setback as a chance to come back even better.

“The injury came and I just sat down with Hodgo [Brett Hodgson] and the conditioners and said ‘what’s the best thing I can do now to pick up where I left off when I finally get back?’

“That was sessions in the gym, training sessions here and there when I could and just ticking over to make sure physically, I was ready to go when I got back and more so, mentally. And I’ve just finished ticking all the boxes so I’m back to full training and ready to go again.”