Texas Assistant Diagnosed with Cancer

University of Texas running backs coach Ken Rucker announced on Sunday that he has prostate cancer and will undergo surgery later this month.

Ken Rucker announced on Sunday at Texas' camp-opening press conference that he has prostate cancer.

Rucker found out last week from his doctor, but said he believes that he'll beat the cancer and make a full recovery.

"We believe it will be completely taken out and it's isolated right now in the prostate, and that's a good thing," said Rucker. "I feel like I will be fully recovered."

Rucker will undergo surgery to remove the cancer on August 27th, the Monday before the Longhorns' home opener against Arkansas State. Texas head coach Mack Brown, sitting next to Rucker and wearing a Live Strong bracelet in his honor, said his assistant was so focused on football that he tried to convince Brown to let him wait until after the season before undergoing the procedure.

"He's such a nice young man and coach that he came to me and said, 'Coach, I want to wait until the end of the season, so I can get through the season before we do anything,' and obviously that's ridiculous. We're not going to have a guy who's got cancer spending time with football," said Brown.

Rucker acknowledged that having surgery as soon as possible is the best decision.

"Coach is right. When you have cancer, you want to get it out and I want to be strong at the end (of the season). We expect a great year and I want to be there to finish the race," said Rucker.

He will continue to coach up until his surgery, at which point running backs and tight ends will be handled by a committee of Brown, offensive coordinator Greg Davis, offensive line coach Mac McWhorter and tight ends coach Bruce Chambers. Brown said he's proud that Rucker will continue to coach until he goes in for the operation.

"I can't believe he's even going to coach for the next month," said Brown. "But he's so involved in this running game and getting it straightened out and getting it turned around. He said 'I can't back away now.' I'm proud that he asked to stay for the whole year, but that's not something that we would even consider."

The cancer was discovered during Rucker's annual check-up. He took the opportunity on Sunday to encourage everyone to make sure and take regular visits to the doctor

"I would suggest that when you have your regular annual check-up, you check your PSA (prostate specific antigen), because that is important," said Rucker. "It had risen some and that's how I found out. But I don't hurt. That's why you need to have yourself checked."

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland. If cancer is present, the PSA level in the prostate can increase. (For more information, head to the National Cancer Institutes's website).

After the surgery, Rucker will rest and doctors have said the he'll be able to return on his own timetable. It'll all depend on how he feels. Brown said that he wants to make sure Rucker does return earlier than he should.

"Our job will to keep him from coming back to soon because he'll be wanting back out there way too quickly and it's going to be hot and it'll be midseason before that opportunity arises," said Brown. "We want a well Ken Rucker going to a bowl game."

After going through his recovery will Rucker really be able to return this season?

"No doubt about it. 100%," said Rucker with certainty.

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