Courtney Jones didn't want to leave Gold Coast after one season.

But the new Richmond forward – and the Jones family – want to share why she requested a trade.

In January, Jones' 13-year-old sister Mikaela was diagnosed with stage 3-4 medullary thyroid cancer, a rare type that makes up less than two per cent of thyroid cancer diagnoses.

"Late last year, my parents took her to a hospital because her breathing was a bit restricted. They said it was because of her asthma and sent her home. A few weeks later, we took her back to a different hospital and told them we need some investigation," Jones told

"They found a mass pressing up against her airway. It was such a quick transition from 'it's just asthma, you can go home', to a biopsy being done at Monash Hospital, which showed it was a tumour. She was then transferred to the Royal Children's Hospital, because they needed more resources to cut more of the tumour out for the biopsy.

"I remember I was at the Aus Open (in mid-January), and I got a phone call from my parents confirming it was cancer. Because the mass was growing against her airway, she was put in ICU, and she was sedated and they had all the tubes in her throat, as well as a tracheotomy (a surgical procedure creating a hole in the front of the neck through to the windpipe, to create an airway where the usual route is compromised).

"It was quite confronting, actually.

"The scan show spots of it in her chest and lungs (meaning it's spread from her throat), so they're classifying it stage three, stage four. With the tracheotomy in her throat, and having been heavily sedated for a few weeks, she's actually been non-verbal for about two months now. So, we're slowly working with a speech pathologist to get that back.

"Because it's such a rare type of cancer, unfortunately radiation and chemo don't work. We're doing a drug trial, which we started a few days ago. The numbers are promising, but you just don't know."

Mikaela is the youngest of eight children, with 22-year-old Courtney, an electrician, slotting in at number five.

After four seasons at Carlton, Jones wanted a fresh start and loved the idea of living in Queensland, finding a new home at the SUNS.

The 168cm forward kicked eight goals from nine matches, with goal assists also a prominent part of her game, and she wanted to be a "SUNS for life".

Then came Mikaela's diagnosis, and Jones was faced with an agonising decision, initially choosing to stick with the SUNS.

"It was tough. I wanted to involve Mikaela in the conversation, more or less. And I just said, 'what do you need from me?' In her own way, she pretty much said, 'I need you here in Melbourne', and that was really difficult to hear," she said.

"But I decided to stick with the SUNS. I texted my parents, I said, 'I've got to stick with them, I love them, I don't want to give it up.'

"I was in tears all the way to the hospital to tell Mikki, and on the way, I started to realise if the decision is making me this upset, I'm not making the right call for her.

"I walked into the room, and saw Mum and Dad there – I had asked them not to tell her I was going back to the SUNS until I had got in – and I couldn't do it.

"I looked at her, and couldn't do it."

As it stands, the specialists don't believe Mikaela will become cancer-free.

"We don't know if the tracheotomy will be a couple of months, or a lifetime thing. There's also the possibility that the drug trial won't work, which is pretty scary," Jones said.

"Just the other day, before I made my decision, they found a blood clot in her armpit and it almost made its way to her heart. Just things like that where if had taken a different scenario and pathway – that just scares me.

"The idea I wouldn't be around if something went wrong doesn't sit well. Last preseason, I lost my nan. I had made the decision to hold off, I thought I had time, and I didn't. With all of that combined, I spoke to the SUNS, to Richmond, and I just couldn't make that decision to stay. It's been really, really tough."

With now ex-Tiger Maddy Brancatisano keen to head to Gold Coast, the possibility of a trade down to Richmond for Jones opened up.

It could be a coincidence, fate, or the guiding hands of the footy gods to help ease a difficult situation, but the entire Jones family happen to be mad Tiger supporters.

"I'm kind of glad that the opportunity to come back is for a team that I've grown up supporting my whole life. I think that in itself is a positive spin on at all," Jones said.

"I was a pretty big fan of Brett Deledio, it was sad to see him go (to GWS). I did like Jake King, 'the push-up King', I thought he was pretty cool. I'm a massive Jack Riewoldt fan, I've got a photo of him and I from when I was a kid. Everyone loves Dustin Martin, I was a pretty big Matthew Richardson fan, and I didn't mind Shane Tuck, either."

Jones will reunite with former Southern Saints VFLW teammate Poppy Kelly at Richmond, as well as ex-Blues buddy Grace Egan. She'll also have a long-awaited opportunity to be selected in the same 21 as both Jess and Sarah Hosking, having not made her debut during the one season all three were on Carlton's list.

Having grown up along the Mornington Peninsula, Jones – five years their junior – has followed in the twins' footsteps, also playing for Seaford Tigers prior to the AFLW.

But if the current AFLW Sign and Trade period (and preceding PSP) has taught us anything, it's moving clubs is an emotional business, for players and fans alike.

Jones wants it known that reasons for moving are not always black and white.

"I just want people to have an understanding of my situation, and a bit of compassion. I think it's an important reminder that while we are athletes, we're also partners, daughters and sisters," Jones said.

"I've said this to Richmond – this is purely a family decision. I'm not basing it off my experience at the SUNS whatsoever. As much as I love Richmond, I love the SUNS too.

"Sometimes we get caught up in being athletes, so I think it's a perfect opportunity to remind people to be kind, as you just don't know what someone's going through in their private life.

"This is something I never thought I would have to go through. But I also know I have a lot of support through both Richmond and the SUNS, and that's why I want to put it out there.

"We're not chasing money, most of us are just chasing an opportunity to have an enjoyable life.

"For me, it's to be with my family at a time of need. You just need to have a little bit of empathy, sometimes."