Mark Hughes has just faced the battle of his life, but you wouldn’t know it.
Smiling and joking around with his well-known wit, Hughes is a picture of positive vibes.
Flanked by his family, friends and former teammates like Ben Kennedy, Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus, the Newcastle Knights fan favourite confidently addresses a room of 50 guests in the HMRI Building at the John Hunter Hospital on Tuesday.
Hughes is on deck to officially launch his new Mark Hughes Foundation, an initiative formed in 2013 to raise funds and awareness for brain cancer.
It’s a non-profit organisation set up by Hughes and his wife Kirralee after the Club legend was diagnosed with brain cancer last year.
Hughes had a malignant tumour removed last August and has undergone six months of chemotherapy.
Now only two weeks after finishing the treatment, he is fully focused on making a difference with brain cancer via his foundation.
The 37-year-old father-of-three says it's an honour to launch his foundation and raise awareness for such a serious condition.
"I've just had wonderful support and the people here in this room have helped support me," Hughes said on Tuesday of his foundation, which will be partnered with the HMRI and the Sydney Neuro-Oncology Group.
"It's just a really proud day for me.
"The last couple of years I've been thinking I really need to find myself a charity, something to sink my teeth into.
"I've always helped other charities here and there, but I felt it was time I dedicated to something of my own."
Hughes has devoted plenty of time to his foundation, an extremely worthwhile cause when you look at the statistics.
Brain cancer is the leading cause in death for people under 40. It's the most complex cancer there is, but it's the most under-studied.
It also receives very little funding.
In 2012, for example, it only received three per cent of the Federal Governments funding.
That's why Hughes says his foundation was created to help with the survival rate and raise awareness.
"As it turned out brain cancer chose me and I knew that was my journey now," he continues.
"I was chosen to make a difference, which I can in my positions with lots of people and contacts.
"Then I put my thoughts into a plan. I wanted to come out of the treatment with a foundation and I wanted to come out of the treatment healthier and we've certainly done that.
"It's not something that you'd expect your doctor to say that you've got brain cancer.
"It's quite confronting. I've been in doctors rooms where Neil Halpin (Knights doctor) has told me you need a knee or shoulder reconstruction or you've got to wear a neck brace.
"At the time I thought that was pretty shattering, but you quickly realise there are certainly more important things in life.
"This was very confronting and very tough, but I had a good team around me of family and friends who helped me through the tough times and now come out the other side."
The Foundation has only just been launched, but thanks to the help of a number of local businesses and close friends the initiative has already raised $50,000.
Hughes also confirms the foundation will be promoted at a Knights match-day later in the year, while they are also looking at having a 'Beanie for Brain Cancer' day for primary school aged children.
While there is plenty planned in the coming weeks and months, the two-time premiership winner stresses his foundation is all about the long-term.
"This is not something that's going to last a year or two years, this is long haul a bit like myself," he says with a grin.
It's this positive mindset that has no doubt helped Hughes pull through the tough times of his cancer treatment.
Because as difficult as the past year has been, the Kurri Kurri born flyer does everything with a smile.
He still swims in the ocean baths at Merewether every day, does hot yoga classes and regularly plays racquetball with his good mate Ben Kennedy.
Hughes' inspirational story is also having an impact on others, like former Knights prop and good mate Luke Davico who climbed Mt Everest last year to raise awareness for Mark’s foundation.
Recently retired Club legend Danny Buderus is also one of Hughes' close friends. Buderus has been named the inaugural ambassador of the Mark Hughes Foundation, a role the champion No.9 is extremely humbled to take on.
"I'm very honoured and privileged to be an ambassador for the foundation," Buderus says.
"I guess you could say it's a bit of a footy mentality that has helped Mark. Whenever you get injured or hurt in footy you see the specialist and you get your rehab program and I think that's the way that Mark has approached it.
"It has been very inspiring.
"Mark said he doesn't want to be known as the footballer now, he wants to be known for the Mark Hughes Foundation and that's just the type of person he is."
Hughes' resilient attitude just goes to show that the happiest people don't have the best of everything, they make the best of everything.
It's a motto our mate Mark 'Boozy' Hughes personifies every day.
Visit markhughesfoundation.com.au for more information or to make a donation.