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Support, schedule leave Courtney optimistic
Farragut High School football skipper hoping he’ll have Hodgkin’s Disease battle won by late 2005

Encouraged by being able to maintain his coaching schedule — and heartened by an outpouring of support — Eddie Courtney remains “optimistic” about beating Hodgkin’s Disease more than three months after the cancer was discovered.

“I’ve really stayed busy this summer and really tried to maintain the normal schedule I do,” said Courtney, 51-year-old varsity head football coach at Farragut High School since 1996, about chemotherapy treatments, which started in May following the discovery of a cancerous mass in his chest in April.

“I think that’s helped a lot, doing what I want to do, so mentally it’s kept me into it.

“As far as my energy level, it’s stayed up, so I’m just going right through my regular schedule and feel like I can maintain that right on through football season,” he added. “But your energy level’s affected, you don’t have as much energy. I try to walk, to maintain my muscle tone and balance ... to stay active.

“At the present time I’m right on schedule with all the tests and scans that it’s going the way it should be going. I’ve just to make sure that I do my end of it.”

A lot more will be known later this fall. “Hopefully we’ll be through by the first of October, and then we’ll begin ... about sixteen straight days of radiation treatments after that, and those will be five-minute treatments,” Courtney said. “That’s what the protocol calls for.”

After that, “hopeful we’ve pretty well deadened and certainly shrunk the size, the diseased part,” Courtney added. “Hopefully it’ll be something that I’ll have to, on a yearly basis, just check and make sure it’s not come back.”

Receiving treatments “every other Wednesday,” the coach shared the experience of what he said is a “three to three-and-a-half-hour” treatment at Tennessee Cancer Specialists in connection with Parkwest Medical Center.

“The chemo treatments, like anybody that has chemo will tell you, just wears on your body and keeps you nauseated a couple or three days after chemo,” he said. “That’s stuff that I’m learning to adjust to. ... You come home and usually you lay down for a couple of hours because you’re still kinda drowsy and all that. ... The next couple of days your body’s going reacting to that. You don’t feel like eating much ... you have no taste for those two or three days.

“You have a real bad taste in your mouth, it’s hard to want to eat, to be honest about it. You don’t have any desire to eat.”

Since his treatment began late last spring, Courtney said he’s lost “between eight and thirteen pounds through this whole thing. You try to find stuff to do so you don’t become [used] to laying down or sitting down.”

As for daily precautions, “You have to be careful with the sun,” Courtney said, adding he tries to stay inside between noon and 3 p.m. during the sun’s most harmful radiation period. “And you have to be careful about your immune system, it’s affected, you have to be careful about not getting sick and picking up germs. ...”

Listing this trial alongside other obstacles in his life, “I’ve had other setbacks, but this has been a different type of challenge,” Courtney said. “It makes you appreciate each day, just from the standpoint that you take for granted just being able to jump out of bed and run and do things like my normal pace of doing things.

“I’m very thankful we caught it at an early stage, and it’s curable and it’s just a matter of me going through these treatments.”

The coach’s illness has also changed a few summer plans.

“We decided as a family that we would not go on vacation,” he said. “We’ve taken two little short trips, a day or two, out-of-town trips, but not our normal summer beach trips.”

As for covering for his father on certain household jobs, “my son, Geoff, has been great about that,” Courtney said. “He’s doing a little bit more around the house, and I appreciate that.”

Courtney said he’s been touched by the community’s response.

“It’s just been very great too see all the people who’ve sent cards, and certainly phone calls and things,” the coach said. “And certainly people I don’t know, or didn’t know, that have called me that’s had some type of cancer. Call and tell you how to handle some things, and encourage ‘yah. That’s been a very big blessing through all this.

“There have been a tremendous amount of people; my family and my neighbors and people in the football program and those I’ve worked with in the past.”


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