Louisville man battling cancer in contest for Super Bowl trip - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville man battling cancer in contest for Super Bowl trip

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Gary Degen doesn't want his cancer to define him. He'd much rather it be his family, faith and football. He'd also rather not listen to some his doctors, who have told him he might not live to see the spring.

Diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer that later spread to his spine, Degen - a health industry worker and podiatrist - has changed his whole perspective on life.

"Football is physical, it knocks you down, it makes you weak. It makes you wish you weren't alive... so does cancer," said Gary Degen. "I suppose it would be easy for me to say I'm done and crumble."

Gary Degen didn't crumble. He confessed his love for football in a cell phone video he submitted to an NFL contest to win tickets to the Super Bowl. The video Gary Degen submitted caught the eye of NFL Films producers, who made Degen one of ten finalists.

www.togetherwemakefootball.com/contest.html

(You can vote for the finalists through December 23rd).

"I don't buy that diagnosis, I've had chemo. I've had radiation. I have two boys who are teenagers and they love football more than I do," said Gary Degen during the video he submitted.

The experience was a huge lift in the family's spirit. The NFL Films crew visited the family this fall, shooting video of Tristan Degen playing for Trinity High School's football team while Gary and his younger son Isaiah helped videotape the game.

Degen's story is now one of ten profiles posted on the contest's website.

Degen isn't pessimistic about his illness. He's determined to live and not listen to doctors estimates that he might only live until February or March. The day after having his prostate removed, his wife Barbara shot video of him walking around still helping his son train for football.

"I will not let this go quietly. If it was a football game I'm not going to be sitting on the bench," he said.

Isaiah Degen, Gary's younger son, said: "My dad's story is such a cool story because everyone was so pessimistic about his diagnosis."

"There were times that I said this is not worth it. But it is - because I've got three incredible family members and my wife Barbara. And I've got a family and friends around me that care," Gary Degen said.

Bucking what doctors predicted, the cancer cells that spread to his spine have responded well to radiation. Degen's cancer in a holding pattern of sorts -- a timeout.

Gary credits his good doctors, faith and his family for his current well being.

"Could things change in a month? Yeah sure they could. But I tell people now: 'when do you plan on dying?' 'Do you have that written down somewhere?' Because if you want to follow that path, you tell me when is it gonna happen. But I don't live that way anymore. I just don't."

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