Thru hell, now back

Obby Khan is returning to football after having his entire large intestine removed. SUN MEDIA/Jason...

Obby Khan is returning to football after having his entire large intestine removed. SUN MEDIA/Jason Halstead

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

He may dress as a backup against Calgary tomorrow night but some thought Obby Khan may never suit up again.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman persevered with courage, determination and the loving memory of his father.

"I wasn't supposed to be back until August," Khan said yesterday. "I was supposed to practise in August and play in September. But I practised in June and I'm playing in July.

"It's a blessing from God that I'm able to play again, the determination I'd had without a doubt, with the support I've had from family and friends and the Blue Bomber organization supporting me 100%. I wasn't stressed one bit through my surgery or recovery."

Khan, 27, went under the knife five times over the past year. First, he had a knee scoped, then had surgery to repair torn triceps. But the major ones were to remove his entire large intestine to address his colitis.

"I know the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback (David) Garrard) ... had a foot taken out of his large intestine but I had the whole intestine taken out," Khan said. "And I'm playing. I understand from my doctor that I am the first professional athlete to try to come back from this type of surgery and I feel great, ready to go."

But there was a dark, foreboding time when he wondered if he would ever get back to being the man he was.

"There was one specific night I remember," said Khan, who once played at 305 pounds. "It was about a week and a half after my first surgery. That was the big one with 40 stitches and the removal of the large intestine and I had the colostomy bag.

'I CAN'T DO THIS'

"I was lying there on the couch in Ottawa and it was a month and a half after my father passed (cancer) and I started crying and I said, 'I can't do this, I can't do this.'"

At this point, tears begin to well in Khan's eyes.

"And my Mom said, 'Dad said you can do it and you'll be fine.' I was down to 205 pounds that night and ..." Khan trailed off, trying to control his tears. "I was in so much pain and I was bleeding and you know, my family supported me, they stuck with me and ..."

Khan stopped to regain his composure, then recalled the words of wisdom from his dying father.

"He said, 'Don't be scared. Maybe it's a blessing from God that you have to get the surgery done and that will be your cure for the disease and you will be able to help thousands of people out there who are going through the same thing,'" said Khan, who has indeed become an inspiration for anyone familiar with his courageous story.

"I'm healthy now and I've received hundreds of e-mails and support from people from all across the country (and the U.S.)," he said. "Just the coverage I've had helps because no one talks about the disease. No one talks about Crohn's and Colitis where you have bowel problems and you can't eat and you can't sleep and you're bleeding."

Khan's road back to the gridiron was greeted by the good-natured barbs that are part of a business that usually has little room for sentimentality.

"I've gotten a lot of support from my teammates," Khan said. "But don't get me wrong, they take a lot of jokes at me, too. They're getting tired of hearing about my large intestine ... Even their shots push you even more to get better. It's like, 'Screw you, I can do it.' But that's what life is like on the offensive line."

Khan hopes his return will help inspire his teammates to victory.

"I'm dying to get a win here," he said.

"As one of the leaders here, I'm going to push some guys and help them out as much as I can."


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