|JIM CALHOUN Returning for 22d year|
STORRS, Conn. - University of Connecticut men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun said yesterday he has had some moments of fear, but never thought about retirement after being diagnosed for a second time with skin cancer.
"All I thought was, 'How do we defeat this?' " Calhoun said.
The 66-year-old Hall of Fame coach said doctors determined last month that a lump in the upper right side of his neck near the jaw line was squamous cell cancer, a type of skin cancer.
He had surgery May 6 to remove the lump, several dozen surrounding lymph nodes, and part of his salivary gland. Subsequent tests indicated all the cancer had been removed.
Calhoun will begin six weeks of radiation treatments June 24 at the UConn Health Center to minimize any chance of the cancer returning.
He said he scheduled the treatments to begin after his June 8 "Challenge Ride Against Cancer," a fund-raising bicycle ride he started last year after overcoming prostate cancer in 2003. He plans to ride at least 25 miles.
His doctors said there will be some short-term side effects from the radiation, but they expect Calhoun to return to his normal lifestyle, including coaching. He expects to be back on the bench in the fall to begin his 22d season with the Huskies.
"I want to coach basketball at UConn. I'm hopefully not going anyplace," Calhoun said. "At this moment I love what I do and feel very, very comfortable in doing that."
Calhoun was first treated for squamous cell cancer last year when doctors found it on his cheek. Doctors told him the recurrence this spring is related to his prior skin cancer, but not related to the prostate cancer.
His physician, Jeffrey Spiro, who attended a news conference with Calhoun yesterday, said he believes the coach is now cancer-free and that his prognosis is good.
"I'm not going to sugarcoat it, but like I think I said to the coach, there's absolutely nothing here that can't be cured," Spiro said.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer, with more than 250,000 new cases a year in the United States.
Calhoun, who missed all or part of several games last season because of illness, said he knew something was wrong because he was more fatigued late in the season than usual. He felt a lump in the side of his neck that doctors initially thought was a swollen lymph node or cyst. A needle biopsy revealed the cancer.