Drew Peschel was in Denver with his family last Labor Day weekend when he noticed something wrong.
The St. Cloud Cathedral senior defensive end had an enlarged testicle.
“It was painful,” Peschel admitted.
Returning to St. Cloud for a doctor’s visit, it was found to be cancerous. He quickly had surgery, missed six weeks of football, but made a successful return and has had no recurrence.
“I’m good,” he said. “They say the first two years are the most likely for it (cancer) to come back.
“So I’ve got one (year) down.”
Peschel is one of three recent cancer survivors associated the Cathedral football program, which is attempting to raise funds and increase cancer awareness this week. It’s part of the Coaches Tackle Cancer program devised by KARE-11 TV’s Randy Schaver, a cancer survivor.
Cathedral is among several area programs this month selling wristbands and signing placards for $1 with proceeds going to cancer research.
Cathedral will have an information table set up for its game with Little Falls at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Cloud State’s Husky Stadium. Donations will be accepted, as they are this week at the high school, Cathedral activities director Emmett Keenan confirmed.
“I know every team has a few people (dealing with cancer),” said Cathedral head coach Dean Taylor, who lost his right arm to bone cancer 10 years ago and also was diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago. “But we have three people really close to it.”
A tough battle
Libby Auger, an athletic trainer at the St. Cloud Orthopedic Sports Center, has worked with Cathedral’s football program since 1984. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2011, had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, and is back working full-time and in remission.
“You get news like that and it takes your breath away,” said Auger, whose husband Andy Auger is Cathedral’s defensive coordinator. “You don’t know how to react …
“My first thought was now my husband and kids (son Tommy is a sophomore and daughter Katie is a ninth-grader at Cathedral) have something else to deal with. My mom died in March (of 2011) and my dad passed away in October (2010) and then came this. I was thinking, what more do my poor children have to go through in such a short time?”
Taylor knows the story all too well. The hall of fame coach has dealt with a multitude of health issues and expects to need kidney dialysis very soon. He believes much of it comes from being diagnosed with bone cancer on Aug. 15, 2002 and the chemotherapy involved.
“When they cut my arm off, the doctor told me that based on the size of the tumor and all the other factors involved, I had a 90 percent chance of dying in one-and-a-half years,” Taylor said. “And that was 10 years ago.”
Peschel said his recovery is going well. He has monthly blood tests and has checkups at the Minneapolis Children’s Hospital every three months. He also has been to the Mayo Clinic once.
“He (Peschel) has done a great job, handled it very well, talked in class about it,” Taylor said. “It is what it is.
“When he told me he had testicular cancer, I was devastated. I told him to go through surgery and physical therapy and try to stay in shape the best you can and we’d have a place for you on the team.”
Taylor asked Peschel’s parents, Carla and David, to staff the table taking donations Friday.
“We consider ourselves very fortunate,” Carla Peschel said. “There was no chemotherapy needed and that was a huge relief.”
Peschel said he was determined to get back into the football lineup as quickly as possible.
“I think she was more freaked out about it than I was,” he said.
She also is impressed with how open her son has been in dealing with it. Testicular cancer isn’t the easiest thing for a high school student to talk about.
“If it helps somebody else to go in and get checked, it’s all worth it,” she said.
After his recovery from surgery, Peschel ended up getting into the last two games of the season. He also started in last Friday’s 14-6 win at Holdingford.
“It was good,” the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder said. “Obviously, it was the first game and we’re still working out a few kinks.
“But we played physically and everything we did wrong we can work on … hopefully.”