Archive column: Taking a break to battle cancer
Editor's note: This column was originally published Oct. 7, 2012. Steve Navaroli has since survived his battle with throat cancer.
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Although I have known I was going to write this column since late July, I still don’t know how to begin, other than to say I am going to miss being a part of the day-to-day sports coverage here at the Daily Record/Sunday News and GameTimePA.com for the next several weeks.
But now I face the biggest of challenges, one that requires all of my efforts.
I have cancer.
And I have every plan to beat it.
However, to do so will require my taking a medical leave from the place I have worked at and loved on a full- or part-time basis for more than two decades.
But I will return.
Treatments started Sept. 24 and will continue into November with radiation Monday through Friday, plus chemotherapy every Wednesday. Those who have been through it, or know someone who has, know it’s a battle.
The night of my first chemo treatment, I went home and basically passed out. I woke up the next few mornings with food being the last thing I could think of — something that has rarely happened to me.
My first thought was, “What is in that stuff?” Well, I probably don’t want to know, but I will take it if it’s my best shot at recovery.
I understand that it will get worse before it gets better. Eating will become difficult or impossible. Energy will not exist. Because of that, I feel it is best to recover from the daily treatments and the after-effects at home — most likely on my couch sleeping.
Let me say that the outpouring of support within the office walls here on Loucks Road and throughout the York-area community is staggering.
I simply can not thank everyone enough for their constant well wishes and encouragement. For example, the first words I heard from the editors here were, “Your only job this fall is to get better.” Another boss has put together a list of drivers to help me get to Johns Hopkins Head and Neck Center at Greater Baltimore Medical Center daily.
My family — wife, Gail, and kids, Andrew and Alexis — have been champs throughout this. And my wife’s employer of 12 years, Griffith, Strickler, Lerman, Solymos and Caulkins, has given grocery gift cards and flexibility in her schedule so she can accompany me when needed. I can not thank them enough, either.
Coaches and athletic directors have texted or emailed me on a weekly basis to see how I am doing. Kids I have covered have sent cards, offered to babysit my children and want to raise money for the cause.
These are high school kids.
I can’t help but wonder what did I do to deserve all this attention. The next time somebody says my job covering local sports is meaningless — boy, do I have news for them.
One coach referred to me as an inspiration for him and his team with the way I am handling the disease. Another said his team is rallying for me. Athletes have echoed those sentiments, saying how much I have helped them excel in their sports, so it’s their turn to support me.
I can't call myself an inspiration. After all, what choice do I really have but to face this thing head on?
Do I want to go through chemo and radiation? No, of course not. But that is my ticket to survival, so you better believe I am going forward.
All too often, people have to wait until their final days to find out how people really feel about them. This disease has allowed me to find out that people care about me, and I am truly humbled.
If you are finding out about my battle today in this column, please, no sympathy is needed. That is not at all what this is about.
My goal is to let people know why they aren’t seeing my byline or my work online at GameTimePA.com.
It’s especially tough to be gone during football season, when I’m immersed in GameTimePA TV, preview capsules, statistics, weekly predictions and more.
YAIAA football, and other falls sports, have been a part of my life nearly every year since 1991. Of course, I would say the same thing about the winter season or the spring season.
I love them all.
However, to move forward, I have to step back from the job and sports community I enjoy so much.
So, my fellow York-area sports fans, I will close by saying, thank you.
I am a lucky man.
A lucky man with cancer.
And, yes, I WILL RETURN.