Coach Rose Addresses Cancer and Recovery

BYU men's basketball head coach Dave Rose held a press conference Wednesday to discuss his recent pancreatic cancer diagnosis and treatment, how his recovery has been going, and what the future holds. Rose was joined by his doctor, Dr. Scott Samuelson, and by BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe. Additionally, assistant coaches, players and family members were in attendance as he shared good news.

The general theme of Wednesday's press conference was one of optimism and thankfulness, and according to Rose and Dr. Samuelson, the outlook is currently a bright one thanks to the fact that there are currently no signs of cancer in Rose's body.

Coach Rose began the press conference with a smile and thanked everyone for coming, then paused for a moment as he dealt with his emotions.

"I'm glad to be here," said Rose. "I'm glad that you all took the time to come listen to what I have to say. It's been a pretty interesting couple of weeks for me, but first of all I just want to thank all the medical staff, doctors and nurses, people at Spring Valley Hospital in Las Vegas for their care and treatment of me, and the people at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City. I believe that I've received the best medical care that a person can possibly receive."

Rose also extended praise and gratitude towards his family, the BYU administration, Tom Holmoe and the athletic administration, and all those that he received well wishes and support from.

"Trying to thank people would take [up] the whole time, because there was so many people [that expressed support to me]."

Rose said he received support from his current players as well as past players he coached, not just in college but in high school as well. He also received support from former coaches that he either coached with or that had coached him. In addition, he said he heard from every Mountain West men's basketball head coach and from fans of other teams in the league.

"Thank you to everyone for your kind words, your well wishes, your prayers," said Rose, who later added that he didn't want people to feel sorry for him. "I believe that I'm a lucky guy. I believe that I've been hit with a challenge, but it's a challenge that is manageable, [a] challenge that I can handle and continue to do what I love to do."

Despite saying that his ordeal was as difficult as anything he's been through, Coach Rose expressed optimism and said he felt as though he had been given a second chance. He said that he generally feels really good, even as a good as he's felt in years at times, though he does get tired at times as he recovers.

Rose's optimistic view was backed up by the results of his recent operation to remove his tumor. His form of cancer, pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor cancer, was described as a treatable and manageable one, and Rose will now simply need to continue to rest and recover from his surgery, and will initially receive scans every three-to-six months to monitor his health and see if the cancer comes back.

"I've had extensive discussions with all of my colleagues, including the surgeons, and no one feels that Dave needs any other surgery right now," said Dr. Samuelson, who is the son of BYU president Cecil O. Samuelson. "No one feels that he needs any radiation treatment, and the plan at this point … would be close observation, which would go on indefinitely, but there would be no role for any specific treatments towards the [cancer] at this point."

Rose's health began to take a turn for the worse during a recent family trip to Disneyland, during which he began to feel a little lightheaded, which he said he didn't think much of. Rose then flew to Las Vegas for a family reunion, but started to feel more lightheaded and had to be assisted off the plane by paramedics, who then took him to the hospital. Doctors discovered that he was suffering from internal bleeding, and his spleen and part of his pancreas were removed.

The internal bleeding was a result of his tumor, which was later discovered and successfully removed at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City.

"I'm just really encouraged with the situation ‘cause of how I feel, because of what I believe and because of the people who have helped me through this," said Rose.

According to Samuelson, there are probably only 10-to-15 cases of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor cancer diagnosed each year in the state of Utah, or five cases per 1,000,000 people per year. The more aggressive and common form of pancreatic cancer, meanwhile, occurs in about one out of every 10,000 people per year. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor cancer is more treatable because of the fact that it spreads at a much slower rate, and all indications point to a healthy recovery for Coach Rose.

"In certain situations – as in the case with the coach right now – after the initial surgery at times there's no evidence of cancer, and that's the situation that we're in right now," said Samuelson. "With the scans that we see, there's no evidence of cancer."

Samuelson added, however, that there is still the chance that the cancer could come back at some point. He said that the encouraging thing about any possible reoccurrence of cancer is that, statistically speaking, it wouldn't be until a long time from now and would be slow-growing and manageable.

As for now, Rose said he plans on maintaining a normal work schedule and coaching the team during the upcoming season, and joked that his players won't get much of a break from him. He expressed optimism towards his team – both with his returning veterans and younger talent – as well as the opportunity to win a fourth consecutive conference title (never done before at BYU) and break through by winning in the NCAA Tournament.

"I love to coach," Rose said. "I love what I do … I want to be here. I want to do this."

Members of Rose's team and of BYU's athletics department also expressed optimism regarding him continuing to coach despite his health issues.

"You know, Coach is a competitor, a fighter, and it's gonna take a lot to get him out of that coaching position," said guard Jackson Emery.

"I've never really told [Rose] how to coach, nor do I intend to," said Tom Holmoe. "But we have great communication with our staff [and] our administration. Our administration's been involved in these last couple weeks, and that's the way it is, so it's kind of business as usual with a big, big hurdle that we just leapt over, and we've just been running alongside of him, doing whatever we can…"

Despite the serious nature of the press conference, there were numerous lighthearted moments. One such moment came when Rose asked his wife Cheryl if he seemed any different following his diagnosis and treatment.

"You're a little kinder and gentler," she replied, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Rose replied that it was the medication that was the cause of that.

One of Rose's parting comments at the end of Wednesday's press conference also mixed humor with thanks and appreciation.

"Thanks so much for coming, and, you know, I've met with the media here many, many, many times and I've never felt that it was the most enjoyable thing that I might be doing, okay," Rose said with a grin, "but I can tell you right now I hope we meet a lot more times, and we'll talk about a lot of really positive things for a long time to come."


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