A MAJOR cancer scare has prompted Tasmania's basketball world champion Hollie Grima to end her decade-long international career.
The Evandale 27-year-old is reluctant to use the word "retirement", but after 224 appearances for her country at all levels, the reigning female international player of the year says it is extremely unlikely she will be involved in next year's Olympic campaign.
A three-time Tasmanian female athlete of the year, Grima is one of her home state's most decorated sports people, having attended three senior world championships and won Commonwealth Games gold and Olympic Games silver.
But the results of a routine pap smear prompted some serious life decisions, and with a clean bill of health she is focused on starting a family in Melbourne with husband David Florance.
Abnormalities detected in the results of a pap smear conducted four days before she flew to Europe for the last world titles led to the discovery of adenocarcinoma in situ, an early form of cervical cancer.
"The doctor said, `what if we find something abnormal?' and I said, `nah, I'd be fine'. I thought `nothing's going to happen to me'," Grima said.
"I told them to let my husband know because I'd be at pre-world championship training in Spain.
"It was definitely a very tough time. I was scared and stressed. And while I was getting these results back, I was overseas alone."
After further tests in France, the former Kings Meadows High School student flew home for surgery in Melbourne at Christmas before returning to finish the French season.
The surgery revealed that some of the cells had turned cancerous but a six-month check earlier this month produced more encouraging news.
"From what they could see, everything looked OK, although it could always come back," she said.
Grima remains a member of the Opals squad, and is still listed on the Basketball Australia website alongside the likes of Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and fellow former Launceston Tornadoes Suzy Batkovic and Liz Cambage.
But after four years playing in Europe, including a Czech championship, she has told Opals head coach Carrie Graf of her decision to take a step back from the sport internationally.
A spokesman for the Opals told The Examiner: "She has made the decision to step out of the program, otherwise she would be here. She is the reigning international player of year and there is no doubting the influence she has had on this group, but the most important thing is that she's healthy."
Grima, who plans to continue playing basketball in Australia and is considering signing up for the WNBL, added: "I think I have come to the end of a long road."
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