FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Bryan Cox, who barked a lot during his NFL playing days, still has an gruff presence about him, particularly during his profanity-laced tirades.
Yet the Atlanta Falcons' new defensive line coach would be the first to admit he has encountered something more intimidating than the person he sees in the mirror every morning.
Cox's wife, Kim, underwent a double mastectomy last year. Her condition was serious enough that the couple, whose youngest daughter is 5, constructed a will.
"We got everything prepared, because we didn't know," Cox said Friday after a Falcons walkthrough. "That's what was so scary to me. It was like, 'You mean to tell me my wife could die? I could be by myself with a 5-year-old?'
"But women are the strongest creatures on this earth, especially a black woman. Ain't nothing like a black woman."
Kim Cox went to the doctor last November for a checkup and received the diagnosis.
"It was the scariest moment of my life," Bryan Cox said. "When your wife comes home and tells you, 'I have to go back to the doctor [because] they found something,' and then she calls you at work and says, 'Meet me in the parking lot, I need to see you,' and then all of sudden she breaks down because she wants to see your face and share the experience because she's scared and you're scared ...
"Then all of sudden, they say, 'OK, you do have it in your breast, and you have it in your other breast as well, so we need to remove your breasts.' It's a scary thing for a father of a 5-year-old and a mother of a 5-year-old to be in a position where you could be without one of the parents. You could be lost."
Kim underwent her surgeries in the Tampa area while Cox was coaching for the Buccaneers last season. Cox praised former Bucs coach Greg Schiano for allowing him time off to spend with his wife during and after the surgery.
"My wife has a good spiritual foundation," Cox said. "She said, 'I don't want any negative things in the house. We're going to do positive [things]. The doctors have spoken, but God hasn't. So we're going to wait to see what He has to say on it.'
"We went into December and she had the surgery and everything went well. It was like a 14-hour surgery. She was down for a few weeks. But the love that our family showed ... when she went for the surgery, we had 14 people in the lobby. And we all stayed there all day."
Kim is currently cancer-free, Cox says, although she is scheduled to undergo another procedure in late October.
"Now, we hear she's clean. She didn't have to go through any chemo. She's fine now. And through our walk, we met so many people who are not fine, where their story turned out to be much different than ours," Cox said. "It humbled me. I'm not scared of much, but I was definitely afraid of that."