by Harrison Kelly
As the Pride trounced the Rochester Yellow Jackets for 624 yards and 70 points on Homecoming Day last Saturday, the performance by our football players was not what our student body and alumni were celebrating most. At the peak of a wild day of events was the recognition of head athletic trainer, Barclay Dugger and his fight with prostate cancer.
Last winter, doctors discovered an anomaly with Dugger’s blood tests during a physical. The tests showed elevated PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) levels, which led doctors to preform a biopsy to see of cancer was present.
When the biopsy showed the presence of cancer, Dugger took the situation head on, conducting his own research on the next steps. This, of course, was expected coming from an athletic trainer, they love taking care of their bodies…it’s their job. After careful decision making, Duggan made the decision to have surgery. “That’s where the research pointed to in my particular case, age, level of cancer, and the aggressiveness of the cancer.”
After successful surgery, the recovery process couldn’t have gone any more smoothly for the head athletic trainer. With tongue and cheek, Dugger chuckled, “[Recovery] was supposed to be anywhere from a 6-12 week recovery.” After only two weeks, Dugger started to feel like himself and wanted to get back to work.
Being the dedicated man he is, Dugger was itching to get back to the AT room. Springfield gave him all the support he needed and welcomed him back whenever he felt ready to do so. “It was nice being home, but it’s time to get working,” said Dugger. “A lot of people were covering my butt here for me, so I was ready to get back to work.”
During recovery, Dugger received heaps full of cards and other facets of support. He was appreciative of the efforts given by his colleagues, students, and patients, but Dugger felt out of place. “I’m a caregiver. It’s a little bit different getting it from the other end,” said Dugger modestly.
Before surgery, head football coach Mike Cerasuolo approached Dugger asking to devote Springfield’s annual “Cancer Awareness Day” to him and prostate cancer as a whole. Dugger has been treating the football team day in and day out during football season for 15 years, and has made the lives and bodies of each student-athlete improved. There would be no better way and time to illustrate support and give thanks to an important part of the program than to dedicate a day to his name.
Dugger had the honor of executing the coin toss at the beginning of the game. With a roar of applause and screams from fans wearing light blue (the color of prostate cancer awareness) “BDStrong” shirts, Dugger won the toss. Springfield then graciously gave him the game ball and a light blue helmet signed by each player and coach, which are now both prominently showcased on the top shelf in his office. Keeping his humble attitude toward his circumstances, Dugger said, “I felt overwhelmed at times. All of the attention, I’m just not really used to it.”
Once the game started, the Pride became all business, and Dugger wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. In fact, he even worked the game as the head athletic trainer. “It was just a regular game,” said Dugger nonchalantly. “It was time to focus on the game, no need to focus on me anymore.”
Dugger’s attitude and action toward his cancer taught a lesson to how we should take on difficult situation in our own lives. Be involved. Do research. Plan your actions out and make your own informed decisions. Remember who is important in your life and who depends on you. Do what you love and be humble. Be tough and meet your obstacle head on. Be Barclay Dugger Strong.