Valvano battling tough back cancer

July 15, 1992|By Newsday

NEW YORK -- Jim Valvano is battling a virulent form of cancer called metastatic adrenal carcinoma and it has apparently spread along his back, according to his brother, Bobby Valvano.

Valvano, the former basketball coach at North Carolina State turned broadcaster, is living with relatives in New York City while he receives out-patient chemotherapy at Manhattan's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Valvano's doctors have told him and his family just what he is dealing with. "Metastasize means that it has advanced, it has spread," said Bobby Valvano. "Everybody knows that this is serious enough that if he doesn't respond to treatment, it will be fatal."

The hospital is offering no information on Valvano's illness or his condition. Survival rates for his form of cancer vary depending upon the time of detection, with five-year survival listed at 80 percent for early detection and sharply decreased in advanced cases.

"He's very frightened," Bobby said. "He has been in tremendous pain."

Jim Valvano's symptoms apparently started at this year's Final Four. Dick Vitale, Valvano's ESPN's cohort, remembers it vividly. "Jimmy would always stand up and say, 'Dick, my back is hurting, my damn back is hurting,' " Vitale said.

Valvano was examined for a herniated disc and finally underwent an MRI to locate the problem in his back. The procedure became a positive test for cancer. "All around the backbone showed black," Bobby said.

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