His family surrounded him when Houston Texans owner Bob McNair arrived for his news conference Thursday to discuss the good news about his health. His wife Janice, herself a breast cancer survivor, his son Cal, the Texans' chief operating officer, and his daughter-in-law Hannah, whose immediate family has also been touched by the disease.
When Dr. Michael Keating spoke on the podium about the promise of eradicating cancer, Janice smiled widely, and shook her fists triumphantly above her lap.
Afterward, Cal took some time to share his experience through his father's illness with a few reporters. Bob McNair battled an aggressive form of skin cancer for the first part of this year, one fed by a chronic condition called chronic lymphocytic leukemia. This week, he was given a clean bill of health.
What was it like to find out your father had cancer?
Cal McNair: Cancer is a bad word. It's a frightening word. And to have that related to your dad, it's frightening. He got through it . He's such an optimistic person, you saw him today, and he was able to make it. ... Thank goodness really he was here in Houston where the best care is. He was able to conquer cancer, it was just fantastic.
How did your family handle this?
McNair: I guess it was just one day at a time. You handle life one day at a time. We all have a lot of faith and at the same time, life goes on. You show up to work. We were in the middle of a draft prep. ... Talking to dad for hours, after our meetings, bringing him up to date, keeping him involved. Then I was also lucky enough to take him to a couple of treatments, which was really nice to be a part of. Really my mom went to all of the treatments except a couple. She really deserves a gold star for doing that because I think it was six weeks of treatments that he had and she got up early, stayed all, some of them were all day. She did that for the duration.
How did his optimistic outlook help your family?
McNair: He's the leader of our family. He's our leader, he's our captain. He just showed that optimism that you saw today. That's how it is. He's an optimistic guy. ... When you first find out, I think, has got to be a shock. You think, 'Oh my God, I have cancer.' He was like, 'Oh my gosh, I've got cancer, let's treat it.' He's very optimistic. Let's be very pro active and go get em.
Was it difficult to tell your kids?
McNair: Dad wanted to keep it real private so we did that. My older girls are in Fort Worth, so they were kind of isolated from it a little bit. We still talked about it but always in very optimistic terms, because that was the prognosis. My boys are all three and under, so they were fine. We would take them up to see dad and it really cheered him up to see the boys. So we did that and the boys just, they loved being with him no matter what he's going through.
Was football a welcome distraction?
McNair: I guess football's been part of our life for 10 or 12 years. It's that because he loves it. I'm sure it was. I hope it was. I called him and spent, like I said, an hour every day. I hope it wasn't a burden, I hope it was uplifting. That was my hope. He was always asking questions, always involved. Wanting to know more. Always challenging me like he does. I could tell he was still very interested and very in tune with all of it.
Has it been hard for him to scale back?
McNair: I think one of the great things about him is he loves to work. He loves to work. He loves to work on football. I just think he's gonna be doing that for a long, long time. Which is fantastic. His dad lived to 102. Dad will be 105 and probably still working. He just loves it. I encourage him. I want him to do what he wants to do. I try to get him to play more golf. Even then, we're still talking every day. He's up to date. He's involved. Any of the big things that are coming up, he's totally involved.
He said you've taken a bigger role. What new responsibilities do you have?
McNair: Yeah, I don't know. I know he said that so I guess I would have to let him tell you. Sort of business as usual for me. Sort of in his shadows, not in the hallway quite as much. But his presence is definitely there. And will be for the next 30 years.