Prayers with boss

Bauer began chemotherapy treatments for throat cancer yesterday and doctors are optimistic he'll...

Bauer began chemotherapy treatments for throat cancer yesterday and doctors are optimistic he'll recover. (Marcel Cretain, Winnipeg Sun file photo)

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Ross Hodgkinson stood in the club's foyer trying to gather his emotions yesterday. Winnipeg Blue Bombers board chairman Gene Dunn had just announced that club president/CEO Lyle Bauer, Hodgkinson's friend and employer, has been diagnosed with treatable throat cancer.

"We go back a long time," said Hodgkinson, the club's director of player development/athletic therapist. "I've known Lyle for 20 years and he's like a brother to me so it's been, uh ... tough sleddin.' "

Hodgkinson has been there for Bauer throughout his tests and diagnosis.

"Special thanks to Ross Hodgkinson, who has helped me through some dark days," Bauer said in part of a prepared statement.

"We knew something was up and we're trying to sort it out for the last period of time," Hodgkinson said. "Obviously when you run through scenarios, you hope for the best and I think we've headed down a road that isn't necessarily the best. We just have to do whatever we can in terms of support for him personally and try to keep the place running the way he wants the place run."

Prognosis good

Bauer, 46, has a malignant oropharyngeal tumour (on the base of his tongue) and began chemotherapy at the CancerCare Centre yesterday. After that, Bauer will undergo radiation treatments. But the prognosis is good, Dunn said.

"They're talking cure and we're all very optimistic that he'll come through this," he said. "But it's an ugly treatment and, as we all know, cancer is not a pleasant disease. The tumour is right at the base of his tongue so, it's a very awkward place to go.

"We've been friends for a long time. It's tough to watch his family go through this. I certainly understand their need for privacy. It's very difficult for anyone, including Lyle, to talk about this. It's a very emotional deal. But he's very positive. The last thing he said to me this morning was, at the press conference, don't forget to tell them we've got lots of seats (season tickets) available."

Bauer first started having throat problems in late summer but the problem was just identified three weeks ago.

"He doesn't have a lot of symptoms that would suggest something like this," Hodgkinson said. "That's made it more difficult and more of a shock when we found out exactly what's going on because he certainly doesn't fit the profile at all.

"He's not a smoker, never chewed (tobacco), no family history. None of the other characteristic symptoms you might look for in someone in his condition."

Bauer did not want this disclosed until he was sure of the diagnosis. In fact, club GM Brendan Taman just found out Sunday.

"I was shocked, stunned," he said.

Dunn asked everyone to respect the privacy of Bauer, his wife, Heidi, and their three children during this time.

"This development comes with much surprise as I have been told that I do not fit the profile or lifestyle for what I have contracted," Bauer said. "This in itself should send a clear message to thousands of people out there today. Early detections, treatment and research are the keys to a future world where 'ALL CANCERS CAN BE BEATEN.'"

In fact, former Bomber president Dr. Ross Brown, overcame throat cancer nine years ago himself.

"My prayers are with him," said Brown, who has been discussing the situation with Bauer. "He'll have an out-pouring of affection from all of the people who know him."

Anyone wishing to send cards or letters to Bauer can forward them to the club at 1465 Maroons Road, Wpg., Man. R3G 0L6.


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