Chat with Tyler Jones
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Tyler Jones, head coach of the Concordia men's basketball team, stops by to talk hoops and celebrate Jimmy V Week here at ESPN. Jones was recently featured on ESPN's OTL as he battles prostate cancer.
In the 18 years since The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded by ESPN and Jim Valvano, the foundation has raised more than $100 million. For more information, or to donate to the V Foundation, call 1-800-4-JimmyV or go here.
Jones is in his fourth season as coach of Concordia. Since joining the team, he has led them to their first winning season in 16 years. He recently finished his nine-week treatment.
Send your questions now and join Jones Monday at noon ET!
Buzzmaster (11:55 AM)
Tyler is here!
How much did it mean to you to have your team show up for your last treatment?
Tyler Jones (11:58 AM)
Well, the support that I receive from my teammates was awesome. We use this term called fox hole for standing up for each other. It was a term I used with my guys. For them to be there was amazing. They took part in a graduation ceremony for my last session. It was a wonderful thing they did for me and I will be forever grateful.
I heard that your prognosis is good, which is fantastic...was your cancer caught early? How was it detected?
Tyler Jones (11:59 AM)
Great qustion. I had a strong family history of prostate cancer. My dad, his three brothers - my uncles - and my older brother had prostate cancer in his late 50s. So I had been tested annually for the last few years. I had PSA and DREs for the last 8 years. Thank goodness my cancer was detected early. My PSA was at a low level. I was diagnosed as a stage 1C cancer. My prognosis is excellent, because of the early detection and I reccommend that men begin early screening.
Has this cancer battle made basketball more or less important to you?
Tyler Jones (12:01 PM)
Another great question. Basketball has always been extremely important to me. It's been a part of my life from a professional standpoint for 17 years now. I think my outlook on basketball changed with the birth of my children. Having kids put basketball into context. Having cancer put it into a different light with the importance of basketball and as it relates to your life's situations. Basketball is in its proper perspective in my life right now and it's a good place.
Lindsey (Gary, IN)
Your fight is inspiring. Do you have advice or words of encouragement for others who are battling the disease?
Tyler Jones (12:02 PM)
Yes, Lindsey. Again, early detection is the key as was in my case. Empowering yourself and those loved ones who may be inflicted with the disease is critical. Know there are more than one way to treat it. Surgery, radiation, proton radiation, there are a number of ways to treat any situation at any stage. I went public with my story to ensure that I did all that I could do to tell people about their options.
You've only had a short period of time to adjust to dealing with having cancer....what's been the toughest part about that adjustment?
Tyler Jones (12:04 PM)
Mentally and emotionally, Larry, to be told you have cancer in your body is very tough, at any level. I'm "lucky" because my prostate cancer was detected at a very very early stage. It changes your focus. Again, perspective. I'm in my infancy in this battle. I hope that when I have more blood work done in January that all signs will point towards having a cancer free life. In five years from now, 10, 15 years from now that I can be at the forefront of those that can truly state I am a cancer survivor.
how did you come to make the decision to have ESPN film your cancer announcment to your team?
Tyler Jones (12:07 PM)
It was really a chance that happened. Proton radiation therapy is not the most well known treatment options. Because of this the treatment center, Procure, I used is only one of 9 centers taht offer that therapy. Because it's not the most well known option, Procure has a marketing company that helps spread the word on proton therapy. The marketing folks called me and asked me if I'd be willing to share information on my experience. At the time, I had no idea that they were going to test my story on the waters with the likes of ESPN. After my conversation with the marketing company, they asked me if I had heard or seen their Outside the Lines show. I said yes, that it provided some of the best programming on the station. They told me they had floated my story by some producers at ESPN and they really loved the idea of making my cancer known public to my players. From there it just took off and it seemed like everyone understood the real meaning and reasoning behind me wanting to spread the word about lifestyle, about family history, about options to handle this situation.
Where did the idea come from to try proton treatment as opposed to the usual chemo?
Tyler Jones (12:11 PM)
Great question. When I was diagnosed, I basically was speechless. I was frozen in time probably for about 24-48 hours. I had no reaction whatsoever. But my wife acted quickly in that time. She immediately went online and purchased three prostate cancer books for me to read so that I could empower myself with information. The first one was "You Can Beat Prostate Cancer and You Don't Need Surgery to Do It" by Bob Marckini. He details the thought process as he dealt with prostate cancer and shares his story of proton therapy in Loma Linda, Calif. in the early 1990s. That was the first place that treated prostate cancer with proton radiation. It was his story that compelled me to seek more information on this process. It was with a great deal of research, which included conversations with those that have received proton therapy that I made the decision to go with it as a form of treatment.
Coach, does watching Jimmy V's speech have any more meaning to you since you've been diagnosed?
Tyler Jones (12:13 PM)
Without question. I'm 49 years old and I remember where I was when Lorenzo Charles put in that offensive rebound basket to win that national championship for Jimmy V and NC State. I remember him being a marquee coach in college basketball and my age range put me in love with college basketball in the 1980s. It was my wheel house. I had watched Jimmy V as a professional and I was extremely saddened to hear about him being diagnosed with cancer. When I hear those words now, it's extremely important to me to continue to be a voice that people can relate to as it relates to being stricken with any form of cancer. His words are powerful and motivate me every day to do all that I can do to beat this and continue to empower people with choices.
Coach, what kind of team do you have this year?
Tyler Jones (12:15 PM)
Ryan, we are a work in progress! We lost 10 seniors to graduation, which I'm very proud of. It's the largest senior class in Concordia history. And we have new parts to the machine. We've played three teams that were ranked in the top 30 nationally from one year ago. We battled as hard as we could and lost those games. We started our conference schedule with an NCAA tournament team from a year ago and struggled. But recently we put up a very good showing in our second conference game and had a nice hard fought 20-point win. So the script on our season is still being written.
Tyler Jones (12:15 PM)
But as always, our team will continue to work hard and improve.
Tyler Jones (12:17 PM)
I would like to thank ESPN for their support. They have been terrific in allowing me the forum to speak freely about prostate cancer, early detection and screening. ESPN has made a committment for not only the initial telecast that aired in September but also in following up to make sure that my health and well being were first and foremost. Thank you ESPN, sincerely.