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 Tigers' radio announcer Jim Price: It's a 'miracle' I'm cancer-free today

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PostSubject: Tigers' radio announcer Jim Price: It's a 'miracle' I'm cancer-free today   Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:32 pm

Last Updated: December 15. 2009 6:52PM
Tigers' radio announcer Jim Price: It's a 'miracle' I'm cancer-free today
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

Detroit --Miracles? To borrow one of his own phrases, he's recently touched them all.

Tigers' broadcaster Jim Price has just come through a life-and-death health scare.

Cancer in his left kidney.

Not to mention a spot on his lung.

Few knew what Price was facing -- but Ernie Harwell was one of the few.

"I can't come close to telling you just how great a friend he is," Price said on Monday. "Facing what he's facing (inoperable bile duct cancer), he's called several times -- and when Ernie prayed for me over the phone, it brought me to tears."

The ordeal began, without Price realizing it, before the end of the baseball season.

Before he returned to the "civilian life," as the 68-year-old Price calls it, of the offseason.

"I didn't have much energy," he said. "But I'm of that stupid old school, I think I'm a tough guy -- you know how that goes -- so I thought it was just some aches and pains that would go away.

"My legs kind of hurt, then I started having horrible nosebleeds."

Nothing that particularly scared him, though.

Until the Friday before Thanksgiving.

Until he began to urinate blood.

"Not just a little," Price said. "I mean blood.

"Three times -- and each time, my back in the area of my kidneys would hurt more."

He went to the emergency room at Beaumont Hospital in Troy. Tests disclosed multiple concerns: An abdominal hernia, the spot on his lung, but, foremost among the scares, the mass on his kidney.

This wasn't anything that could wait.

Had the blood not served as a warning, the situation might well have gotten to the point that . . . well, as Price said, "We were told it was a life-and-death situation had it continued."

During a four-hour surgery, out came the kidney. But with it came a cancerous mass that one of the doctors told Price "was the largest kidney mass" he'd ever seen.

Most important, though, Price was told they "got it all."

In other procedures, the hernia was repaired and the spot on his lung was diagnosed to be benign -- but something to be periodically checked. Price was home in time to take 16 family members to Thanksgiving dinner.

End of the story?


It's in such harrowing times, of course, that we come to know the meaning of friendship.

Price, when all is said and done, is a private person. He spends much of his year behind the microphone, next to Dan Dickerson in the radio booth.

To that extent -- while we're driving, getting a haircut or painting Aunt Polly's fence -- he's a part of our lives.

And because the voice is public, we seldom think that an individual can be private -- whether it's good times or bad.

"We were hoping this didn't get out," Price said about the ordeal, "but it has."

So he talked about it.

And while he talked, discussing how his friends and family have rallied to his side, the voice of this tough ol' bird cracked more than once.

"My doctors performed a miracle," he said. "No two ways about it. But I mean, when you're out, when you're under (anesthetic) and your wife is told, 'Your husband has cancer,' it gets pretty rough.

"Thankfully my wife (Lisa) is an unbelievably strong woman."

Price recovered quickly from the surgery. Pain was not a problem.

"My belly-button area actually hurt more from the hernia surgery," he said. "For the kidney surgery, I only had to take a couple of Tylenol after it was done.

"I've gotten a clean bill of health. It's nowhere else in my system and I'll be back at the job, ready to go. It's really a miracle. I'm a very lucky guy.

"But let me tell you, I have such wonderful friends. Ernie praying over the phone for me, I tell you, it makes me cry.

"The Tigers have been great, Mr. Ilitch has been unbelievable. He genuinely cares.

"But I'm also thankful for the great doctors like Dr. Kenneth Kernan at Beaumont and the nurses who took care of me as well. I'm very, very, very lucky.

"It really does feel like a new lease on life.

"Like I can work another 20 years."

"If you have to choose between power and speed and it often turns out you have to make that choice, you've got to go for speed." Source: TV Guide Interview (April 3, 1982)
-- Sparky Anderson
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