When Carolina Panthers special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven left Charlotte six weeks ago to begin treatment for prostate cancer, the NFL coaching veteran wasn’t sure he’d be back.
But after doing well with an alternative treatment that does not involve chemotherapy, DeHaven returned Tuesday for the start of the three-day minicamp.
Wearing his trademark bucket hat on a day when temperatures reached the upper-90s, DeHaven said it was great to be back.
“From what I heard going out of the doctor’s office down here I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be back. It’s turned out where I’m able to get back here,” DeHaven said. “I’m so thankful. I look at life a whole lot different.”
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DeHaven, 66, said doctors discovered the cancer seven weeks ago. He returned to Buffalo, where his wife and children live, to start the treatments that will continue through the season.
DeHaven said his doctor in Buffalo wants to see him at least once a month. But DeHaven hopes he can minimize the time away by scheduling his visits around a preseason trip to Buffalo in August and the Panthers’ open week in October.
DeHaven will be working with Russ Purnell, a close friend and longtime special teams coach hired last month to fill in for DeHaven.
“We’re in this thing together,” said DeHaven, adding he and Purnell have 54 years of NFL coaching experience between them. “That’s the great thing about it being Russ. I trust him implicitly.
“I’m going to tell the team, ‘We may not know it all, but we probably know a lot of it. So it’d be a good idea to listen to what we have to say,’ ” DeHaven said.
DeHaven encouraged all men to have their prostate levels checked.
“One thing I can tell all those guys out there: Get to that doctor,” he said. “I don’t care what they’re saying about that PSA being important or not. ’Til they get real definitive thoughts on how to do that, I’d be checking that. And if you get anything you don’t think’s right, go to your doctor right now and check it out.”
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