Former Rabbitohs player shares fatherhood joy after cancer
JAMIE Simpson's dream of becoming a father seemed impossible when he was diagnosed with cancer 15 years ago.
But the former South Sydney Rabbitohs player says his "miracle" daughter Gracie has changed his life.
He's shared his take on parenting and fatherhood as part of a national campaign from Stockland to recognise the important roles dads play.
Mr Simpson grew up in a one parent household, with his mum taking on both roles after his father left.
"She was the one teaching me rugby skills - not that she was good at it - she was the one who took me to the games on the weekend," he said.
After retiring from the Rabbitohs in 2011, Mr Smith moved to Rockhampton where he works with radio station Triple M.
He also coaches football and works with Central Queensland Indigenous Development, using his profile as a former league professional to teach anti-bullying programs in schools.
Fatherhood was always a dream for Mr Simpson, but when diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma he was told he wouldn't be able to have children.
Four years ago, a decade on from the diagnosis, Gracie was born.
Mr Simpson's second child is due in December.
The idea that fatherhood may have been impossible has driven Mr Simpson to be as hands-on as possible.
"Becoming a dad was amazing," he said.
"People say your life changes - it's a cliché - and you just don't believe it can.
"When your child comes into the world you fully understand what unconditional love looks like.
"You would do anything for your kids. It hit me as soon as I held Gracie in my hands.
"I always wanted that day to come but I was never sure it would."
There's no instruction manual for parenthood, and Mr Simpson said the best advice was to "jump in head-first", learning along the way.
Father's Day in the Simpson household was a low-key family day.
"To be honest, a lot of people are not lucky enough to have a father around, or a father figure - someone who plays that role," Mr Simpson said.
"And as fathers, we do like the recognition. Father's Day is just to acknowledge all the fathers out there who have a connection with their children."