He's one of North's toughest players, but Scott Thompson knows better than anyone that challenges on the footy field pale in significance to those off it.

Thompson has opened up about the toughest time in his life, in order to raise the level of awareness of bowel cancer.

The All-Australian lost his dad and hero Don on July 22, 2010 to the disease, and it still hurts him to think about it.

"Dad had cancer twice, in 2005 and 2006, was when we first found out," Thompson told NMFC.com.au.

"He'd had stomach pains and stuff for a while and they didn't know what it was, it took a while for the doctors to find out that he actually had bowel cancer. He fought it once and got rid of it but it came back again at the end of 2007 early 2008.

"The second time it was a pretty aggressive cancer and it got into his lymph nodes. They gave him an estimated time of how long he had to live and they said a year, but it was only three months."

Thompson's father helped shape him into a hardworking footballer and person.

"Dad had a huge part in my football, he was my role model. He was pretty proud of me making it to the AFL," Thompson said.

"He would watch every game, even when he was really sick he was still coming. It was one thing he looked forward to every week. I think about him every time before I go out to play a game. It's pretty tough, I wish he was still there, but unfortunately he's not."

24-years-old at the time, the devastating loss was life-changing for Thompson but the loss has strengthened him and his family forever.

"It was obviously the hardest time in my life but we've got a really close family so we all pulled together. The club was fantastic as well, giving me time off when I needed it. All our family is really close which made it a little easier having all the family there.

"It makes you realise that you don't have an endless time with all your family, you've got to cherish the moments you're with them and try to see them all the time. Stay close to your family and your friends and give them as much time as possible."

Thompson's strength can, in part, be attributed to his mum Elaine who is a dedicated and loving supporter of her three boys.

"Mum loves her football, she loves her sport. She loves coming to watch her kids play and achieve things. She's definitely there every game and she's very strong woman," Thompson said.

Elaine never misses a North game, which means travelling from Geelong and even flying interstate when the Roos play away.

"We felt so lucky to have our boys. We were and are, a very close family. Scott was particularly close to Don and used to do everything with him. He'd always talk to his dad about his footy no matter what," she said.

Thompson too has become a father with he and wife Lauren welcoming the arrival of their first child Genevieve in March.

"It's been great so far, she's 12 weeks now. She doesn't do much, she smiles and feeds and cries. But so far it's going really good and Lauren loves being a mum. It's all going well with our healthy baby and we couldn't be happier."

Through his terrible experience with his own father Don, Thompson wants to encourage everyone to stay on top of their health by keeping up to date with regular bowel cancer tests.

"My dad, he was very healthy, but he never had the bowel cancer check, we picked it up pretty late and you can see what happens when you don't get to the cancer early. I would urge everyone to get the checks when they're recommended because if you can get it early you have a much better chance of fighting it."

The North Melbourne and Adelaide Football Clubs will support The Jodi Lee Foundation's #iknowsome1 campaign to raise awareness of bowel cancer at this Saturday's game at Adelaide Oval.

If you, or someone you know has been affected by bowel cancer, join us in supporting the campaign on iknowsome1.com.au by posting your photo and/or story on Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #iknowsome1.

The most creative selfie, as judged by The Jodi Lee Foundation at three quarter time on game day, (June 14) will win an iPad mini valued at $500.

Facts about bowel cancer:
*       An estimated 17,000 Australians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer this year alone
*       Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world
*       The campaign aims to highlight to all Australians that bowel cancer can be successfully treated or even prevented ifdetected early through screening.

The Jodi Lee Foundation is a national bowel cancer prevention charity, formed after Nick Lee lost his wife to bowel cancer at age 41. jodileefoundation.org.au