Bauer's outlook bright

Winnipeg Blue Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer has been through the darkest times of his life,...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer has been through the darkest times of his life, but his outlook is much brighter a year after being diagnosed with cancer. (Winnipeg Sun/John Woods)

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

If anyone can beat it, Lyle Bauer can.

That's what Bauer's old offensive line buddies told me exactly 12 months ago, when the Winnipeg Blue Bomber president and CEO revealed he was about to begin the battle of his life.

The opponent, throat cancer, made every other fight Bauer had ever had, on the football field or in the boardroom, seem like a walk in the park.

Well, one year to the day after Bauer's battle became public, the man who occupies the football club's big chair has been given a clean bill of health.

"We had our nine-month test results last week, and they were all favourable," Bauer told the Sun yesterday. "We'll still continue on checks every three months, but so far, so good."

The nine months Bauer refers to is the time that's passed since he completed chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

He's not out of the woods, yet. Who is, really? Once you've been diagnosed with cancer, you probably never feel like you are.

But it doesn't mean he's not optimistic.

Certainly, Bauer's outlook on life is much brighter today than it was, at times, earlier in the year.

"There were some real tough days at the backside of my radiation," he said. "Energy was completely zapped out of you. Your neck is really burnt. You had to drag yourself (out) ... and at the same time keeping the attitude, as far as fighting. There were some tough days, the toughest days I've ever been through in my life."

At the same time, the football team embarked on one of its worst seasons in years. Bauer's involvement in that battle, of course, had to take a back seat.

Bauer credits Heidi, his wife of 26 years, his doctors, their staffs and other cancer patients for being an inspiration.

He had three mentors, all of whom were further along than Bauer in their recovery from the same cancer.

Lord willing, Bauer will be that reassuring voice for somebody else down the road.

"Like I've said before, I can't do anything about the people who've gone before me," he said. "But in order to pay them for what I've received, I can certainly try to do something for the people who are coming after me."

Of course, not every story at CancerCare Manitoba has a happy ending.

"Along this path, there are many people I've gotten to know very well," Bauer said. "And many of them didn't make it. I have made it. It's a very stark reminder."

It turns out there's no wake-up call like the one you get when you're forced to go eyeball-to-eyeball with your own mortality.

"It's heightened my faith, no question," Bauer said. "You really do take stock in what you have around you. The competitive fire and yearning for success, for this organization to succeed, still burns as hot as it ever has done. But also, you take a little bit more time when it comes to your family, your friends. And I'm probably a little more patient.

"There are some people that said it would probably make me a better CEO, a better leader. You're able to stand back and realize that as bad as things may look, they're really not that bad."

It's certainly going to be a different Christmas around the Bauer home this year. Of course, it was different a year ago, too.

But the uncertainty, if not outright fear, has been replaced by an appreciation for the here and now.

Sure, Bauer has lost a bit of weight, and he has to constantly have a glass of water nearby, the result of 90% of his saliva glands being burned out by the radiation. But, as he says, that's a tiny price to pay.

Oh, and he says he's not as good a singer anymore, either.

A fighter, though?

Oh, he figures he's still that.

"We're always up for a good fight," he said, chuckling.

"Just next time I want to be a little more selective, as far as my opponents."


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