Charlie Metcalf does not want to be celebrated.
But the longtime Asheville High assistant football coach is handling chemotherapy well.
Metcalf is halfway through his six treatments for Stage III non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the only major complaint so far is the loss of his hair.
“So far, it hasn’t been as bad as I thought,” Metcalf said. “I have some good people praying for me.”
The Cougars (2-2) will hold a cancer awareness night this evening when they play host to the Q. Foundation (0-3). Kickoff is set for 7:30.
Asheville coaches and players are expected to wear small amounts of pink tonight as many high school, college and professional football teams have started doing this time of the year, but there will also be a personal touch.
To honor Metcalf, the Cougars will don lime green wristbands inscribed with “No one fights alone.”
Hodgkin’s lymphoma generally begins in the neck or area between the lungs and behind the breastbone. Lime green is the color for lymphoma awareness.
Metcalf, 60, has been at Asheville for 10 years and is the Mountain Athletic Conference program’s assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach and special teams coordinator. He also teaches U.S. history and oversees the Cougars’ boys golf program.
Metcalf first noticed that something might be wrong toward the end of last school year when he developed a hoarse voice for no reason. But he truly felt a sense of alarm when Metcalf’s wife noticed a swelling on his neck while giving a haircut.
Metcalf undergoes chemotherapy treatments every 21 days and said he has continued to coach and teach with minimal interruption.
“We had a chance to tell the kids in the locker room and in my class about this early,” Metcalf said.
“I never thought I would get cancer. When you’re a coach, you expect a heart attack or something (stress-related). I didn’t see this coming, but I’m fine. I’m appreciative to everyone for thinking of me.”
Cougars coach Danny Wilkins expects it to be emotional when the school makes a public-address announcement tonight to the crowd on hand for his team’s fifth regular-season game.
Wilkins estimated that at least three or four other Asheville faculty members besides Metcalf are fighting a form of cancer at the moment.
“There probably won’t be a person in the crowd whose family hasn’t been touched by cancer in some way,” Wilkins said. “It’s important that we take a moment to honor and remember all of those people who have dealt with this disease.”