Tackle Cancer: Jerry Kill's battle with cancer, epilepsy

6:32 AM, Sep 18, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - Gophers football coach Jerry Kill is back at work after suffering an epileptic seizure at Saturday's game.

Kill had his first seizure back in 2005, a day his wife, Rebecca, remembers well.

"The seizure actually saved his life from cancer," Rebecca said. "He was complaining of his back. I had them take an X-ray and that's when we found cancer."

The news was hard to comprehend. Kill, a hard-working, energetic football coach was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney cancer in 2005 while coaching for Southern Illinois. Kill beat the disease and he said it changed him forever.

"I'm a better person, live every day like it's your last, don't take anything for granted," Kill said. "I feel bad for people diagnosed with it. Wish I could help them more."

It's now Kill's mission to help people with cancer. On Saturday, the Gophers are hosting a Tackle Cancer game to raise money to fight a disease which nearly cost the coach everything.

"Being diagnosed with cancer, there's no question it's made our marriage, our lives, all of it better," Kill said.

Life is still challenging for Kill. The seizure in 2005 was just the beginning of his journey with epilepsy. Two years ago, the Gophers faithful were silenced when Kill suffered a seizure on the sideline at the end of a game. On Saturday, Kill suffered a third on-the-field seizure since taking the Gophers job.

"I know there's speculation about whether this guy can do that or not," Kill said. "I've been dealing with it for eight years and we've won a lot of football games. I think there's a false illusion it happened during the football season, not true. I've had them off and on over the past eight years at different periods of time."

Rebecca Kill says she's not as scared as she used to be.

"As I've been around him more, they're not quite as frightening because I've made myself understand that he's going to be OK," Rebecca said. "It's just something that's going to last a minute or two."

Kill is working with an epilepsy specialist, and he said progress is being made.

"We're survivors. We're fortunate, but we can help other people save lives," Kill said. "I think maybe that's why I'm here, maybe that's why you're (Randy Shaver) here. We're here to help people."

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