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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Josh Paschal and John Schlarman Edition

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Mark Stoops learned about Josh Paschal and John Schlarman’s cancer diagnosis on the same day. What a gut-punch that had to be.

VRBO Citrus Bowl - Kentucky v Penn State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.

Yesterday, there was an article published at ESPN.com about the bravery of two Kentucky football guys — one a coach and one a player — who have been bravely fighting cancer together for the last couple of years. Of course, everyone here who follows Kentucky football, or Kentucky sports at all, knows that we are talking about defensive end/linebacker Josh Paschal and offensive line coach John Schlarman.

What we know is that Paschal had been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma has affected a lot of famous people including Bob Marley, who died of the disease, as did former football coach Bruce Snyder, actor Burgess Meredith, and Maureen Regan, daughter of former President Ronald Regan. Jimmy Carter, John McCain, Troy Aikman, Sam Donaldson, Hugh Jackman, and Whitney Carson (Dancing With the Stars) among many others have also been living with the diagnosis.

What many of us, at least me, didn’t know is that head coach Mark Stoops found out about Paschal and Schlarman on the same day. Paschal’s diagnosis we also knew, but Schlarman’s was not revealed, at least to me, until this article. He has a rare bile duct cancer with a typically inscrutable name, “cholangiocarcinoma,” seemingly reserved for rare malignancies.

One of the things I have the unfortunate distinction of knowing a lot about is malignant melanoma. That’s because my wife Petra was diagnosed with Stage III melanoma in 2015. After two surgeries, she was cancer free in February of 2016 and has remained so to this day. Her five-year anniversary will be next February, a milestone all cancer patients look forward to.

Josh Paschal’s diagnosis was very similar to my wife’s — a sentinel lymph node in his groin tested positive for a small focus of cancer cells. Petra’s melanoma was on her arm, and she also had a small focus in one node.

For those that know melanoma, this is the among the scariest news you can get. The standard treatment calls for a lymph node dissection (removal) of all of them on the affected side to be sure as possible no malignant cells remain. A large area of skin around the lesion is also removed (Petra’s looked like a small shark bit out a piece of her arm). Recovery is painful, as is the often-attendant health consequence of lymphedema, which unfortunately happened to her as well. But that’s way better than having live cancer in your body.

As bad as all that is, Schlarman’s diagnosis was far worse. His cancer is inoperable, and as physicians are wont to say in their unfortunately droll-sounding vernacular, outcomes for Schlarman’s disease are poor, as is typical of rare cancers, especially those involving internal organs. But he continues to live with the disease that is virtually always fatal, and as medical science advances rapidly on the immunotherapy front, maybe he can be at the forefront of surviving this horrible malignancy. We can all hope and pray for that.

That news had to be a horrible moment for Stoops, but in typical fashion, he immediately transitioned from his grief to, “How can we help?” The rest of the story is fascinating if you have not read it, so I won’t go on from here.

Read the whole thing.

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Kash Daniel, yesterday:

Plus, can you imagine?

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