Hours after having two biopsies performed to determine a course of action to treat his thyroid cancer, first-year Abbeville football coach Gary Adkins was in attendance at his team’s season-opening game Friday.
Instead of taking his customary position on the sideline where he’s coached for 34 years, including 27 as a head coach, Adkins was in the press box at Kaplan’s Ed Douglas Memorial Stadium where his team lost 44-7.
“I knew I was going to hurt no matter what,” Adkins said Saturday. “I said I might as well go to the game. I knew I couldn’t stand the whole game like I normally do. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. There was so much I needed to tell the boys and couldn’t. I had never been in the press box before.”
Adkins took the Abbeville job in late July, quickly put the finishing touches on his coaching staff, started to learn his personnel and installed his offensive and defensive philosophies that were hallmarks in his 141 career victories.
Adkins said he was told several weeks ago he had thyroid cancer after a visit to the doctor for swelling in his neck and repeated headaches.
“I’ve been real blessed that I’ve never been sick,” Adkins said. “I’ve never missed a game. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for on that end.”
Adkins was at school Thursday when he said he felt “woozy” in the morning. He went home to take medication and returned to help players place new decals on their helmets and attended practice, but wasn’t heavily involved in the team’s final preparations, he said.
Adkins said his son took him to the hospital Friday where two biopsies were performed on different spots on his thyroid. He expects to learn the results of the biopsies later this week.
He said did receive a “normal” result Saturday from a recent CT-scan.
“I don’t know exactly what’s going on,” Adkins said. “I’ll know more when the biopsies are back and then we’ll start with a game plan. There’s no good time to get sick. Right now is obviously not a good time for me and the kids. I’ll fight through it and be there when I can.”
Adkins intended to start breaking down game film of this week’s home-opening opponent — Berwick — from his home Saturday and plans to be at work Tuesday unless told otherwise from his doctor.
During his plight, Adkins said he’s found a burgeoning support group in his players, whom he’s known for about a month, and the Abbeville community where he know resides.
“The outpouring of support is so breathtaking,” Adkins said. “They’ve been supportive, saying the right thing at the right time to make you feel better. A big portion of them have been the kids. They’ve been wonderful.”