(CBS) Prior to first pitch of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on Thursday night, the Cubs played an inspirational message from Eddie Olczyk, the venerable hockey commentator currently fighting colon cancer.
Olczyk reminded that one can be defined by responding to adversity, as he has during his battle, and the sellout crowd offered a standing ovation. Olczyk wasn’t at Wrigley Field on Thursday. Instead, he was working the Blackhawks telecast for their game against the Oilers, and he received another standing ovation at the United Center, the same as he did at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Wednesday night in his first broadcast since the diagnosis.
While facing quite the fight, Olczyk has returned to work as he’s able. There, he has inspired others and received plenty of support. He spoke of the battle Friday on the Spiegel & Parkins Show on 670 The Score.
“I feel pretty good this week,” Olczyk said. “It’s been a battle. These last three months have just been a stop-me-in-my-tracks moment. Sadly, there’s millions and millions and millions of people that are fighting this disease and families that are going through it with loved ones. I’m just so lucky to have the incredible support of my family. My wife of 30 years has just been the pillar of power and strength and support. My kids, my folks, my brothers and my extended family with the Blackhawks, I don’t have enough time in my life to thank them.
“I have my good days and my bad days. Anybody that’s seen cancer and seen chemo therapy, I think that they can relate. There are a lot of times I’m horizontal for five, six days at a time, which is pretty tough. But when I have my good days, I want to take advantage of it.
“It’s been the best medicine I’ve taken in the last little while.”
Olczyk was able to work this week because of a healthy response to a bi-weekly chemotherapy cycle. He will begin the fourth of 12 rounds of chemo Monday.
The diagnosis of Olczyk’s cancer went public in early August, just a week after he had the tumor removed from his colon. He would’ve preferred to keep the news private if not for a busy schedule of public appearances, including his work broadcasting hockey and horse racing for NBC and NBC Sports Chicago.
Ever since word spread of the diagnosis, Olczyk has found that he has great support in his fight.
“I’ve been scared, am scared, will be scared, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that,” he said. “I’ve had enough quiet time these last three months and moving forward to last me a lifetime, and I’ve been to places I don’t want to go. But that’s just human nature.
“It’s OK to cry. It’s just the reality. To me, I felt initially that I had let everybody down. I let my family down, I let the Blackhawks down, I let the NHL down, I let the horse racing community down. And after getting slapped a couple times by my close friends, people saying, ‘Look, you absorb this. It happens.’ So you do draw yourself into areas where you don’t want to go. The positive and the attitude is so important. I know, it just happens I happen to be a public figure. I would’ve loved to have gone under a rock with this.
“The mental part of it is what really makes it tough. That’s the way I look at it. I’ve been to places that I don’t want to go, and sometimes I drift there. But that’s where I rely on my support team. I’m not going to stop until it’s out of me, and I can win and beat this thing.”