AS SOON as Jesse Hogan got the positive news from the surgeon who operated on his broken collarbone that his season was still alive, the Melbourne star forward put all his energies into getting back before finals.
As it turned out, the 22-year-old only missed two weeks, with Hogan returning to the football field just 21 days after having a plate inserted into the left side of his collarbone by surgeon Andrew Oppy.
Coming back into the team after such a short layoff was one thing, but that the star forward booted a season-high six goals to lead his side to an important 13-point victory over the Brisbane Lions at the MCG on Sunday highlighted Hogan's determined mindset.
"When I did it (broke the collarbone) I thought it was like a 12-week injury and I was pretty flat," Hogan said.
"I saw the surgeon the next day and he basically said, 'You'll be running in four days, playing in two weeks', which kind of surprised me.
"He (Oppy) happened to be a Dees supporter as well, so he was pretty keen to get me back out there."
Hogan threw himself into his rehab, completing the necessary strengthening exercises on his shoulder in the gym and getting back on the track just a week after suffering the serious injury against North Melbourne in round 19.
The Demons star revealed the club used Western Bulldogs midfielder Lin Jong as a marker for his own recovery, with Jong returning to play in last year's VFL Grand Final just 17 days after suffering a cracked collarbone in the elimination final win over West Coast.
Hogan has endured an incredibly taxing year, with the young forward losing his father Tony to cancer and then being diagnosed with testicular cancer in May.
The collarbone injury was another setback in a season that has yielded just nine matches, although Hogan prefers to cast his mind forward and think about what might happen at the business end of the year.
"I'm just happy to be out there, to be honest," Hogan said.
"The most games I've played this year in a row is four, so just to be out on the park is my main priority at the moment.
"To kick a few was a bonus and it was good fun."
Hogan said there would be a time at the end of the year where he would sit back and take stock of the mental and physical strain that he has been through this season.
For now, though, his full focus is on ensuring the Demons clinch a finals berth and make an impact in September.
"It's pretty hard to reflect on mid-season," Hogan said of the hardships he has faced. "Come the end of the year it will be more of a time to reflect.
"For me, I've tried not to dwell on things too much and get back into the club and get around good people.
"If you go away and do your own thing you can get pretty down on yourself."
Hogan said he would have found it difficult to pull through if not for the support of the Melbourne Football Club and his teammates.
"The club was extremely caring and were very cautious to what I needed – whether I needed space or whether I needed to be around the boys. They couldn't have done any better, in my opinion."
Coach Simon Goodwin is optimistic about what Hogan can produce for the rest of the season, and hopeful the star forward will be in a strong physical space at the back end of this year.
"Hitting the scoreboard was one thing, but I thought his intent and the way he played was outstanding. It's a reflection of the training that he's been able to put in, and his preparation in and around his game was sensational," Goodwin said of Hogan's six-goal haul against the Lions.