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At the Ripe Age of 69 I’m Finally Going to Make a D-1 Hoops Roster!

January 14, 2022

On Friday January 28th, CSU and UC Health will be holding the ”Bigger Than Basketball” game as the Rams host UNLV. Its a promotion that began two years ago and will be the third edition. Its a game where CSU and UCHealth honor 15 cancer warriors by putting their names on the players’ uniforms and also host a number of events to connect the team with the cancer warriors. And I have been assigned the #2 of CSU Freshman Jalen Scott.

So wait you ask. That means that you have…

And the answer to that is ”Yes I have cancer”.

My wife and I chose to limit our communication of it to close friends and family. We just didn’t feel like it was something to broadcast to the world. Especially because my 97-year-old mom has a serious heart condition and we didn’t want her to stress. But it will become public in two weeks and I’m ready to open up.

I was diagnosed with colon cancer in late August after a colonoscopy. They found a 2-inch tumor in my colon during the procedure.

Two weeks later I was in surgery to remove 9” of my colon. Part of the procedure was also to evaluate lymph nodes of which they were able to look at 36 of them. The hope was that the lymph nodes would all be good. Unfortunately they found metastasized cancer in one of the lymph nodes. Just one! But that was enough to move from Stage 2 to Stage 3 cancer and present additional challenges. With Stage 3, chemotherapy becomes part of the program.

I began chemotherapy in late October. A twelve-week regimen consisting of four 3-week cycles. A combination of an infusion and pills. The 12-week cycle ends on January 17th. So here we are.

I won’t get into all of the details of what chemotherapy is like but its not the most comfortable of processes. All of our life we are conditioned to taking medicine to make us feel better. With chemo, the medicine makes you feel worse. In some cases, a lot worse. The initial anxiety caused by the fear of the unknown of chemo turns to anxiety triggered by the fear of the known. And the known is that chemo really sucks. The effects of the chemo are cumulative over time meaning that you feel worse the further you get into it, not better.

The challenge is to take on those fears directly. There is no other real choice but to deal with it emotionally, mentally and physically. You go for an infusion knowing that in the first few days of receiving it, you feel like your eyeballs are being torn out of your sockets if you sneeze. You take the pills knowing they’re gonna turn your stomach. You touch anything colder than room temperature and you get a shock.

You transcend all of that with one thing – belief. Its that belief that gives you the courage to advance on a daily basis. Some days are good. And some days its a struggle just to put the left foot down and follow it with the right foot.

Sometime in November/December I was contacted by UCHealth to see if I wanted to participate in the Bigger Than Basketball event. My heart rate skyrocketed when I was asked. It took me about 2 nanoseconds to say ”Yes”. They had no idea that I am a long-time season ticket holder, that I cover the team on my very own CSU Mens Basketball site, that I do a weekly radio segment with Brady Hull at 1310 KFKA and podcasts with Joel Cantalamessa and Mike Rowe at Ramnation.com. And when I told Kathleen Michie, the UCHealth employee responsible for choosing the 15 warriors, she was equally excited for me.

And so here I am. On January 28th I’ll be living a dream come true. I grew up in the burbs of Philly just a couple of miles from Villanova. I dreamed of being a point guard for the Wildcats. Unfortunately, my basketball career ended in high school when I went from being good enough to not good enough. I was an undersized point guard who could pass and shoot but I couldn’t guard my own shadow. It was over.

So you’ll have to bear with me if I shed a tear when I see Jalen Scott on the court. He’ll have my name on his back and I could not be prouder. It’s the closest thing to a ”Make a Wish” for me. I’m on a D-1 roster! Jalen will not play as he is being red-shirted. I jokingly asked Coach Medved to remove Jalen’s redshirt so that I could get some court time and of course the request was denied. Sorry Jalen, I tried. 😀😀😀

I am so grateful to both CSU Mens’ Basketball and UCHealth that they have an event like this. I am being honored alongside 14 other cancer warriors who have demonstrated an extraordinary level of courage in dealing with this insidious disease. Many of them are involved in regimens far more challenging than mine and I am truly honored to be included in their company.

I am blessed to have had such fantastic medical care – from Dr. John Cawley (my family doctor), to Dr. Robert Quaid (my surgeon), to Dr Lynn Mathew (my oncologist), to all the nurses and support staff at the Harmony Cancer Center in Fort Collins. These professionals are truly extraordinary. I don’t mind being a walking advertisement for UCHealth. They are remarkable!

There’s an old gospel song titled ”I Believe”. It has served as part of my strength and inspiration. The first line of the song says it all.

I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.”

My flower blossoms on January 28th!.

I hope to see you at Moby cheering on the Rams with me that evening. If you can’t make it, I hope you’ll watch the broadcast on FS1 network.

And I hope you’ll hug a cancer warrior or a health professional if you get a chance. They are my heroes.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2022 6:10 pm

    Steve, my heart sank when I read this. What a wonderful irony that you were selected to participate in what is becoming a wonderful tradition of the CSU basketball team honoring those experiencing cancer. I’ll be there cheering loud and proud. I assume you get to keep the jersey! Stay strong friend. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

    • January 14, 2022 7:07 pm

      Thanks. And yes we get to keep the jersey. I’ll probably go to my grave wearing that jersey; hopefully not for a long time.

  2. David permalink
    January 14, 2022 6:22 pm

    God bless you and your family. We don’t know each other personally, but I’m a long time reader and fan of yours. Thanks for what you do for the Ram family. Keep fighting the good fight of faith!

  3. Tim Bruny permalink
    January 14, 2022 7:04 pm

    You and Peter have been great friends for years and can’t imagine a better way to honor such a wonderful Ram Fan.

    We’re all cheering you on in your recovery and will definitely be there on the 28th to cheer you on (even if it’s on the bench)!

    F Cancer

  4. January 14, 2022 7:19 pm

    As I told you in person, I am so very sorry that you have to endure this dreaded disease. But I have a hunch that our Rammies will play extra hard that game. You are a long-time fan and friend. Hoping to read many more of your columns. Go Rams.

    • January 14, 2022 7:21 pm

      Thanks Jan. I’m planning to be here a lot longer. My chances for recovery are very good. But even if things dont work out I have had a blessed life. I have gotten to know so many fantastic people along the way – which includes both you and Len.

  5. Brian Walter permalink
    January 14, 2022 10:49 pm

    Swoll, got to sit by you during a MBB game in 2019. We haven’t met but a few times but I do follow your blog. What a shock this was. Glad your Chemo is almost over and so sorry you have to go through this. I’ll be cheering you, and the other 14, on the 28th.

    • January 14, 2022 10:51 pm

      Thanks Brian. My odds for recovery are well north of 50% so I’m positive there will be lots of Ram games in my future.And like I pointed out in my blog, this game is my flower!

  6. Rees Davies permalink
    January 15, 2022 2:18 am

    I’ve had too much cancer in my family and feel lucky to have caught my melanoma early….I will be there in spirit and in the TV audience that night. My prayers and best wishes go out to each and everyone of 15 chosen by UC Health….GO RAMS AND BEAT CANCER!

  7. Phil permalink
    January 15, 2022 1:17 pm

    Hi Swoll,

    I’ve been on the ramnation site for years go by IndyRam. I don’t live in Colorado but went to CSU and try to get to a game yearly or a roady. Anyway read your story I just got diagnosed at 46 after routine colonoscopy. Unfortunately went to the Liver already and they cancelled surgery til we get some treatment. I’d really like to pick your brain offline if you’d be open to it? Thanks in advance and give it hell. Really wierd I just saw this in the board though not gonna lie! Have fun at the game and Go Rams!

    • January 15, 2022 1:33 pm

      If there’s anything I can do to help, just ask. My situation was this. I was having trouble with my digestive system over the summer. My regular doctor told me to get a colonoscopy which took six weeks to get scheduled (a by product of COVID). My doctor scheduled a CT Scan with hopes that I could,get the colonoscopy pulled up if anything showed up. The good news is that nothing showed up outside of my colon. Bad news is that I had to wait for the colonoscopy. When they found the tumor, we were able to immediately identify a surgeon and get the procedure scheduled within two weeks. Then six weeks of healing before I started chemo. The surgery was actually amazing. Done arthoscopically, I was out of the hospital and walking around within just over 24 hours. Liquid diet for awhile but I felt pretty good heading into chemo.

      • Phil permalink
        January 15, 2022 3:30 pm

        No symptoms whatsoever…my Dr. just told me I really needed to get a colonoscopy since they just changed the guidelines and they sent me to the oncology nurse after I woke up… Have you had any get to the liver? How has the chemo been? I was scheduled for surgery on Tuesday, but once the Liver spots were cancer we gotta go to plan B. Really start over as have to go to more experienced hospitals. Good news is Mayo is close and hopefully they will accept me. They have moved really fast with me which is great had surgery scheduled within 2 weeks of diagnosis. The Liver thing was a big blip, but not gonna lie sucks to have a plan and then it gets sunk. I’ve heard from many though this shit doesn’t go as planned just plan on that.

      • January 15, 2022 3:38 pm

        My cancer was limited to my colon so that was good. Until they found one lymph node (out of 36) with metasticized cancer. Which meant chemo. Chemo is not a lot of fun. I was on a 12-week regimen which consisted of four three-week cycles. Infusion the first day followed by pills for two weeks, then a week off. The first cycle was very manageable. Neuropathy and cold sensitivity was tough ( couldnt even drink a room temperature drink without pain) but I had energy and was walking about 2 miles per day. Things got worse during the second cycle; my feet hurt so bad that it was hard just to walk from the family room to the kitchen. My oncologist reduced the infusion dose by 15% for the third and fourth cycles and that helped with the foot pain. But fatigue set in and I havent had much energy. I’m now done with the pills so I’m pretty much done with the 12-week regimen. Now its time to get back to feeling human. Hopefully the CT scan on 1/31 reveals nothing. Fingers crossed.

      • Phil permalink
        January 15, 2022 3:44 pm

        Thanks for the input. I hope your CT is clean and life starts getting normal! Enjoy the jersey day that’s a really cool idea might try to get that going at Iowa! They do an awesome job with the Children’s Hospital, but this is great idea.

      • January 15, 2022 3:48 pm

        My brother-in-law was also diagnosed with colon cancer a few weeks before me. They also found some small tumors externallly on some of his organs. He had a surgery that removed a chunk of colon and the tumors on his organs. Original plan was two surgeries but he found someone who could do it in one surgery. He began chemo after that and is starting to feel better.

  8. John permalink
    January 15, 2022 10:58 pm

    The men behind names. Steve and Phil. Oh my goodness. Your blog Steve and your discussion with Phil here just put a pit in my stomach. It’s a terrible feeling to get the diagnosis and the unknown. I am praying for physical healing & peace of mind for you both through your journeys. I’ve met you before Steve back at Hughes several years ago. Phil, planning on getting to meet you in the future. John – aka PikesPeakRam

    • January 16, 2022 5:29 pm

      Thanks for your prayers John. I am blessed to have so many people in my corner.

  9. Fabian Family permalink
    January 16, 2022 10:40 pm

    Hi Swoll: We’ve never met but I am a fellow season ticket holder and follower of your awesome blog. I am so sorry to hear about your cancer fight. I will be pulling for you on the 28th and all other days in your fight against cancer. Chris (outwash)

    • January 16, 2022 10:43 pm

      Chris, thank you so much for reaching out and thank you for your support. Ram fans have been amazing coming out of the woodwork and it really,means a ton to me. I’m so excited about the 28th (and the rest of the season too). Go Rams!

  10. Russ Sprague permalink
    January 25, 2022 2:04 pm

    Wow swoll, you just made made my heart sink. I had no idea. What a great honor for you. I love your passion for our great University. This is such a great event. Pulling for you and hope to see you at a NCAA tournament game with the Rams!

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