Tuesday, September 21, 2021

NBA Referee Tony Brown Opens Up About His Battle with Pancreatic Cancer

Tony Brown cancer
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*Veteran NBA referee Tony Brown has opened up about how his pancreatic cancer diagnosis changed his course a year ago. 

“I was considered one of the best referees in the world,” Brown tells The Undefeated. “When this season began, my goal was to experience that exhilarating moment again. But life threw me a curveball. Pancreatic cancer. Stage 4. Honestly, I don’t know what’s in store for me,” he said. 

“But with the love of my wife, my kids, my NBA family and my friends in the trenches alongside me, I’m well armed for this battle for my life,” Brown added. 

In an excerpt lifted from the article, Brown recalls the moment he learned something “wasn’t right” with his body. He says:

The first sign my body wasn’t right came after a sushi run while in Miami working the April 8 Heat-Lakers game. Stomach pain led to a doctor’s visit, and I was told it was pro”bably a case of food poisoning.

But the stomach pain lingered through the following week and my wife Tina insisted on a follow-up doctor’s visit. When I returned to Atlanta, I scheduled an appointment that turned out to be far from routine.

A blood test revealed an abnormal alkaline blood number of 355 — over five times higher than in December when it registered at 66 during my preseason physical.

‘You’re healthy, so I’m not overly concerned,’ the doctor told me. ‘But let’s do some scans just to be safe.’

I underwent an ultrasound and an MRI, and when something abnormal was spotted on my liver, the doctors ordered a biopsy — the removal of tissue that can be further analyzed.

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Brown goes on to recount being told by his medical team that he had  “a series of blood clots in your lungs.

After being treated for the blood clots, he was then startled by the diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer which spread to his liver.

“I had never seen an oncologist before that day, had never had any ailments and I was the picture of health — you have to be in my profession as an NBA referee. I’m still emotionally wrecked as I think back to that moment,” said Brown.

He goes on to explain the emotional conversation he had with his kids about his diagnosis. 

We decided at that moment, as a collective, that we would be our best selves, fight with all we had and let God take care of the rest.

The kids were instantly on board. They recognized the strength in us and they trusted us. They were determined to rise to the occasion and not let me down. 

That moment of renewed strength, faith and belief was beautiful. When we went back downstairs to greet our close friends, we had a focused attitude.  

The kids are still rolling strong. 

We all are.

You can read Brown’s full account here.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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