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by Al Wallace   |   January 29, 2020

One for the Coyotes

In some ways I’ve felt like I’ve battled cancer my entire life. My mother lost her life to cancer, as did both her parents. All four of my sisters had been diagnosed with some form of cancer, though none have lost their lives to the dreadful disease. 

With all that said, it came as no surprise to me, when, in late October of 2011, a routine physical was followed up later by a phone call that I felt was inevitable. My doctor at the University of Kansas Medical Center told me I had prostate cancer.

That was the bad news. The good news, later confirmed through further tests and a biopsy, was the fact that we had caught the cancer very early. Under the care of Dr. Brantley Thrasher and his team of physicians and caregivers, a three-month “fight of my life” included removing my prostate by using a da Vinci robot. My treatment for cancer did not include radiation or chemo. I was lucky. Early detection and awareness—along with the love and support of family members and friends—helped save my life.

In my experience, I’ve come to realize that cancer does not discriminate. It doesn’t care. It plays no favorites. It doesn’t see color, gender, or age. Though my bout with prostate cancer lasted less than five months, I’ve decided my fight against cancer will last until I take my final breath. My fight will include awareness, early detection, and using my voice and my experience to share that fighting cancer is a team effort.

I want to help those who are trying to overcome the hurdles that cancer can present.

I recently retired from a 40-year career in television broadcast news, having worked the last 33 years as a sportscaster at WDAF-TV, the FOX affiliate in Kansas City. Two of my best friends at work both had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and both survived. A family friend and neighbor, diagnosed with brain cancer in 2003, did not. His name was Rob Mullin, and I had the privilege of speaking at his memorial service in early December of 2016.

I recalled a conversation Rob and I had in January of 2012, where I asked him, “How do you beat cancer? How do you do what you do every day, to battle cancer?” His reply: “You fight it.” That plain. That simple.

For me, it started, in part, with being involved with local efforts in the Kansas City area, to help raise funds and awareness in the fight against cancer. My most personal contribution has been my autobiography, One for the Coyotes: How I survived 40 years of my dream job in tv news (and cancer too). The book chronicles my life, my love of family and sports, my work ethic, and yes, my fight against cancer. 

It’s all been a team effort for me. I couldn’t have done it, and I can’t continue to fight it, without help. But it all starts with me, a cancer survivor. It all starts with me trying to help others become cancer survivors too.