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It's win-win at best news conference of Rose's life

BYU basketball coach Dave Rose addresses questions about his plans now that he has "no evidence of cancer."
BYU basketball coach Dave Rose addresses questions about his plans now that he has "no evidence of cancer."
Jason Olson, Deseret News

PROVO — The best press conference of BYU basketball coach Dave Rose's life was nearly over. The questions were winding down after he had explained to the media that "the scans show there is no evidence of cancer."

The rest was just details.

"I have met with the media many, many times," he said, with a wry smile. "And as many of you know, it's not my favorite thing. But I can tell you now, I hope we meet a lot more times."

He closed with this: "Let's go see what's next."

So it's on to the next challenge, which is likely to involve more basketball than medicine.

"It's amazing how things can change," he said.

Earlier this month, he was on a family vacation at Disney's California Adventure. He had just climbed off a thrill ride with his teenage daughter when he started feeling light-headed and experiencing stomach pains.

"Everything was pretty normal until the California Screamer [sic, California Screamin']," said Rose, drawing laughter.

They flew to Las Vegas for a family reunion, but he was transported to the hospital, where his spleen was removed. That led to the news he had pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor cancer. But on Wednesday, he announced the tumor had been successfully removed. Other than rest and dietary precautions, he plans to resume his normal routine.

"All right," he said. "That's good."

Soon, Rose was talking about going for an unprecedented fourth straight conference championship. He was asked whether his other goals seemed more reachable, considering what he just went through. Goals like winning an NCAA Tournament game — something that hasn't occurred in 16 years.

"It's going to happen. It's the right place and the right time," he said.

Who's to argue? He knows all about beating the odds. Instead of getting normal pancreatic cancer, he got a rare, more treatable, variety.

Dr. Scott Samuelson, who sat at the table along with Rose and athletic director Tom Holmoe, noted that Rose's case occurs approximately five times per million people per year. The more aggressive and deadly type occurs five times in every 50,000.

Thus, the mood was upbeat at the Marriott Center. Most had assumed the gathering was going to be a rundown of the long, possibly futile treatment process ahead. But when Rose appeared, he didn't look sick. He looked ready to coach.

Along the west side of the room, his players lined up. His wife, Cheryl, sat across from him, near the front. Various officials and media filled the seats. Rose began talking, and as he did, he spoke of plans to be on the sidelines when the season starts in November, if doctors allow. He joked about being only 51, and not needing a couple of naps a day. He was asked how he felt (great) and about his timetable (warp factor nine).

He said he had heard from former teammates and coaches, friends, media members and fans from around the world.

It was, he added, a gratifying experience.

Asked if he acted any different than before, he referred the question to his wife, whose timing rivaled Seinfeld's. After a brief pause she said, "You're a little kinder and gentler."

Everyone laughed.

Rose replied, "That's because of the medication."

It was a rare session, not just because of the positive news, but because everyone was happy. For once, Rose was answering questions after an event in which everyone won. In fact, he said he received encouragement from every coach in the Mountain West Conference.

He spoke of the conference race, basketball camps and winning — the kinds of routine things you worry about right up until you get off California Screamin' and start feeling dizzy.

"I feel like I've been given a second chance," said Rose.

As I walked out into the afternoon sun, I felt a little bit the same.

After all, it might have been the best press conference of my life, too.