Friday, May 13, 2011

Steve Lavin Announces New Strategy to Beat Cancer at Yankee Stadium

St. John's basketball head coach Steve Lavin, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last fall and kept it a secret during the Red Storm's surprising run to the NCAA Tournament last season, has found a new approach to beat the Big C without surgery or radiation treatment.

Lavin told reporters attending a "Coaches vs. Cancer" pre-game ceremony at Yankee Stadium last night that the new, less traditional, treatment is called active surveillance and consists of tracking the size and growth of the cancer.

The Red Storm coach might be one of the first public figures to use the radically new technique to battle prostate cancer.

Last night, the 46 year-old Lavin spoke for the first time in public about his treatment options since April, when he first announced that he had the disease.

Lavin said doctors will closely monitor his PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels and Gleason Grading System, which measures the the size of the growth. If both levels remain low, more invasive treatment, like surgery and radiation, can be avoided.

"I just learned about it [the treatment] on Monday," said Lavin. "In addition to the precise monitoring and regular checkups, it's implementing a plan of exercise, healthier eating--lots of broccoli--weight loss."

It's been quite a year as new head coach for St. John's. Lavin, who returned to coaching after a seven year absence, led the Red Storm to it's first NCAA bid in nine years and just finished a filling out top-rated recruiting class for 2011.

Lavin kept his diagnosis of cancer a secret throughout the season after doctors told the coach he could delay his choice of treatment. Lavin called it "an informative and instructive experience."

"The doctors I was working with were confident if I wanted to tackle this in the spring or summer, there wouldn't be any risk or danger to my health," said Lavin.

Lavin, who spoke with urologists in New York and California before meeting with a radiologist on Monday, also contacted his friends Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker for their input. Both men have already beat cancer themselves. Boeheim was coaching eight days after his surgery.

The coach has noticeably slimmed down since the end of the basketball season and attributes it to walking and yoga.

When asked about his re action to being told he had prostate cancer, Lavin replied, "Initially it's disbelief, then it's curiosity in terms of what's next, now what."

Lavin remains optimistic and is inspired by the fact that his father fought the same battle nearly two decades ago.

"Having a team of great doctors naturally helps, and having a father who had prostate cancer at 61 years old and is now 80 helps somewhat," said Lavin.

Lavin hopes his public profile can throw some light on the misconceptions and significant advancements in cancer treatments. On the field at Yankee Stadium last night, Lavin's message beamed like one stadium's brightest floods overhead.

"This is special on a number of fronts," said Lavin "A group of people that share the passion for fighting the good fight and being the champion of a great cause, which is find a cure for cancer."

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