Coach Shares Illness With Team, Nation
Attempting to help others, Coach Tyler Jones let ESPN record disclosure of his prostate cancer to his team.
For many, telling someone of a life threatening illness is a very personal matter. Coach Tyler Jones, head basketball coach at Concordia University Chicago in River Forest, knew the disclosure of his having prostate cancer to his team would be difficult, but when he was approached by ESPN to do a feature on it he did not hesitate a moment.
"I'm all for the exposure," said Jones. "I want people to know you can get better from this and that early diagnosis is the key."
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Coach Jones had been aware of his chance to develop prostate cancer—he has an extensive family history with the disease. After a coach from another school disclosed he had the illness recently, Jones took it as a sign he should call a urologist and get a more in-depth exam himself.
When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer after a biopsy earlier this year, he developed a need to gather as much information as he could about the condition.
"I read three books in three weeks," said Jones. "I was just a madman on the Internet. I researched everything."
It was through one of those books that the coach found out about proton therapy. This therapy is a more precise external radiation treatment for cancer that results in less of the side effects traditionally associated with radiation therapies. Currently there are only 9 centers in the United States that offer the treatment. The first was built in 1990. Jones receives treatment at a Chicago-based facility.
Additionally, Jones has become more mindful of his health and made lifestyle changes, like cutting out drinking several Diet Cokes and grabbing the occasional candy bar before heading to practice. As he undergoes treatment, the coach is able to keep up a regular exercise routine—he works out about twice as much as he did before the diagnosis. He also maintains his coaching and teaching responsibilities.
"I feel great. I have more energy now," said Jones. "I'm 32 treatments into 44, I have 12 left as we speak. I had a treatment this morning."