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News » Boylan bounces back from a trying summer Bucks assistant deals with tongue cancer

Boylan bounces back from a trying summer Bucks assistant deals with tongue cancer

Boylan bounces back from a trying summer  Bucks assistant deals with tongue cancer By CHARLES F. GARDNER

Jim Boylan endured a rough summer as he fought a battle with cancer.

But now the Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach is back instructing players at practice and calling out directions from the bench, doing what he loves to do.

"You definitely look at your life a little differently," Boylan said. "Some things you took for granted, now you have a greater appreciation. To me, it was kind of like a bad dream. It just lasted about three or four months."

The 54-year-old Boylan said he felt poorly at the end of last season but couldn't get a handle on a persistent sore throat, despite several visits to the doctor. Finally, a magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed a tumor at the base of his tongue.

He began chemotherapy and radiation treatments in early June and wasn't finished with the treatment until mid-July, seven weeks later. During that period, he lost his appetite and at least 25 pounds.

"I had a lot of confidence from the very beginning," Boylan said. "The doctors gave me confidence it was something they could deal with, and I was in good enough shape, young enough, healthy. That makes a huge difference.

"But with that being said, there are still moments of doubt. It's not easy. The chemotherapy and radiation take a lot out of you."

Boylan took part in the Bucks' draft preparations in June, but he stayed home in July while the team's young players competed in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

"Right around the second or third week of the radiation, it started to take its effect," Boylan said. "Around the draft time, I was feeling it pretty good but still wanted to be part of the draft and see the guys work out.

"It was strange for me, because everything happened after the season. I had great care from my doctors at Froedtert. It's a tremendous hospital and tremendous support staff."

Boylan praised the care he received from doctors Stuart Wang and Christopher Schultz, both of whom specialize in head and neck cancer at Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

And Boylan said he had constant support from his wife, Jane.

"There's a lot that goes into the treatment, and you don't realize it until you're in it," he said. "But you feel terrible, and phone calls need to be made and prescriptions need to be filled.

"It was very difficult to eat. But yet you have to eat or they have to put a tube in your stomach, and I didn't want any of that.

"My wife made it simple for me. I basically lived on protein shakes for about a month. I lost my taste buds for a while, but they're starting to come back. It makes it really difficult to eat. You'd be surprised. Until you don't have them, you don't understand what that's like."

On Sept. 15, Boylan underwent a CT scan which showed him to be cancer-free. He will undergo a more detailed exam in November but is optimistic.

"The doctors said it was absolutely clear and clean, everything was gone," Boylan said. "There was no scarring or anything. Usually with a CT scan they don't give you a complete clean bill of health because there's some scarring left over from the radiation.

"But there wasn't any. I'll go back in November for a PET scan, which is a much more detailed test. They inject some solution into your body and it adheres to any abnormal cells.

"But, they don't think so because there was nothing there when they looked at the CT scan. I'm feeling good about that."

Boylan, also famed in Milwaukee as a starting guard on Marquette University's 1977 national championship team, is starting his second year with the Bucks .

He was coach Scott Skiles' top assistant in Chicago for four years and became interim head coach of the Bulls during the 2007-'08 season, after Skiles was fired in late December. Boylan also was on Skiles' staff in Phoenix from 2000-'02.

Boylan rejoined Skiles after the Bucks hired the Indiana native as head coach in April 2008.

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 19, 2009


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