Coach Bill Battle has always been in ridiculously good shape for a 73-year old man. His pearly whites and thick mane of silver hair are the envy of men half his age.
So in the Fall of 2015, when the very active Battle was dropping 20 pounds, no one thought too much of it -- Coach Battle had just changed up his exercise regime, most thought.
In this case looks, and assumptions, were deceiving — and potentially lethal, as Cecil Hurt reports.
"[the cause] was multiple myeloma, a form of cancer."
Battle's diagnosis is that he is in Stage 1, the earliest level of development. He is, he said, "in a good partial remission" and that his illness is "not life threatening." In an effort to sustain that remission, Battle will spend the next two weeks, beginning on Wednesday, at the Winship Cancer Center at Emory University in Atlanta. While there, Battle will undergo stem cell replacement therapy under the care of Dr. Sagar Lonial. While in therapy, Battle will take a leave of absence from the Alabama athletic department.
"That doesn't mean I will stop working," Battle said. "I will be in touch by e-mail every day. I will be in direct contact with our senior administrators on a daily basis, and I expect to be back in the office later this summer. My doctors say that I will be able to keep working for years, for as long as I want to."
According to the Mayo Clinic, multiple myeloma is a relatively rare form of cancer affecting the white blood cells, specifically the plasma. The disease, like many other cancers, has a diffuse array of symptoms including nausea, weight loss, bone pain, night sweats, confusion and other cognitive changes.
There is no known cure for myeloma; however, if diagnosed and treated early, the disease is highly manageable.
Best of luck to Coach Battle in his fight against one of the nation's most pernicious killers, and we look forward to seeing him throughout the 2016-2017 academic calendar.