Win one for Wendy

Chuck Walsh has been splitting his time between Argo practice and visiting his mother, Wendy, who...

Chuck Walsh has been splitting his time between Argo practice and visiting his mother, Wendy, who is recovering from illness in a Hamilton hospital. (Toronto Sun File/Fred Thornhill)

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

While focusing on the playoff game against Hamilton, Argo defensive lineman Chuck Walsh is also thinking about the battle his mother is waging in a Hamilton hospital.

Wendy Walsh has just been moved from the intensive care unit following a health scare that had her family and friends deeply concerned. She suffers from a chronic connected tissue disorder that affects all aspects of her body and directly impacts on her lungs. In the summer, her lung capacity dropped to 30%, at which point doctors began chemotherapy and some other treatments to stop the spreading of the disease.

She recently developed a cold which turned into pneumonia and 10 days ago had to be rushed to a hospital in Hamilton. The Walsh family was summoned amid serious concerns about Wendy's health, but she made steady improvement and doctors upgraded her condition on Monday and moved her from the ICU to the respiratory unit.

RALLYING

"She's actually making an amazing recovery," Chuck said yesterday. "It was actually pretty scary there for a couple days. We really didn't know what was going to happen. In the short term, she's going to be recovering but she's probably going to have to wear an oxygen mask and then long-term it looks like they're going to try to go ahead with a lung transplant.

"There's some risks with that, but the way she is right now with 20%-25% of her lung capacity, that's no way to live your life."

Wendy has been a major backer of her son's fledgling pro football career and has regularly attended training camps and practices when her health allowed. She is somewhat of a surrogate mother to the team, supplying players and coaches with homebaked cookies.

She summoned the energy to watch the Argos' final regular-season game Thursday against Montreal on television. Heavily sedated with painkillers, she wore her replica Argo jersey with her son's number 90 and had some thundersticks to cheer. Coincidentally, because the game had no bearing on the standings and many starters didn't dress, Chuck played considerably at defensive tackle.

WATCHING

"She was awake enough for the start of the game and fell asleep at halftime," Chuck said. "She still doesn't remember a whole lot of it. That week was very draining for me. Sleeping in waiting rooms, definitely your football routine has been compromised. But in situations like that, you draw on something that's a little deeper than just your normal strength. You're pulling a little bit deeper. You've got something more to play for. You just find it from a little deeper than you thought you had."

While his mother won't be in attendance for Friday's game at the SkyDome, Chuck said she'll be cheering from the hospital with the rest of the Walsh family.

"It's not like she's going to be far away from me," he said. "She's still in touch with what's going on. I still see her every day, still talk to her and she's still doing her usual thing. Still cheering and encouraging me. I still talk to her about the game plan and what's going on."


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