I strolled up to Springville baseball coach Tony Dlouhy at picture day late last May and immediately made the comment that he had lost quite a bit of weight.
“What’s your secret?” I asked. “I wouldn’t mind shedding a few extra pounds myself.”
I got a big smile from Tony, as well as Oriole assistant coach Randy Turner.
“Are you sure you want to know, Daryl?,” Dlouhy replied. “Because this diet plan certainly isn’t for everyone. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone.”
Amazingly, Dlouhy was still in the recovery stages from stage 4 bone cancer in his jaw, and during an incredible journey that saw baseball actually help him through the healing process, lost more than 25 pounds in a two-week stretch.
Honestly, I was just happy to be able to stand there and talk to the Springville head coach that afternoon, because just four months earlier Dlouhy’s outlook for the 2018 Oriole baseball season didn’t look very good.
Actually, doctors had told him his very life wasn’t looking too good either.
“Being told you have stage 4 cancer is like being handed a death sentence,” Dlouhy said. “The doctors didn’t waste any time. They scheduled me for surgery just days after my diagnosis. We were going to attack this thing.”
Dlouhy, after 38 years of chewing tobacco, had malignant cancer form in the lower left side of his mouth, forcing surgeons to remove all of that jaw on Feb. 5.
“They got all of the tumor and then I had to start the long road back to recovery,” Dlouhy said. “I was happy and angry all at the same time. I did this to myself because of a decision that I made when I was just a kid.
“I decided to start chewing as a teenager and it was that decision as a 15-year-old that would change my life today. Sometimes decisions you make and the things you do as a young kid can come back to haunt you. That’s something I’ve been talking to the kids here on my team about all summer. Think about the things you do. Make smart decisions. You never know when a bad one can come back down the road and affect your very life.”
Following surgery, Dlouhy started making plans letting assistant coaches know the program would most likely be without his services this summer.
But it was that motivation, to be with his team and be at that first practice on Apr. 31, that helped him through the toughest time of his life.
Dlouhy started radiation and chemotherapy on Mar. 1, and gradually began to lose his ability to taste as well as his saliva.
Then the weight really started to come off.
“I couldn’t eat,” said Dlouhy, who was on an all liquid diet.
“I just couldn’t keep anything down.”
Once again, however, Dlouhy persevered and today is cancer-free.
“I’m not going to say baseball cured me from cancer,” Dlouhy said. “But it sure helped me through the healing process, and that was huge. I had that goal to shoot for. Be healthy enough that I could coach this summer and be there for my kids (Dlouhy has three children, Wyatt, Olivia and Gabe, who is a freshman on the baseball team).
“There were times when I didn’t think it was going to happen, but I made it.”
Dlouhy also realizes his battle is not over.
“This fight is going to be on-going for me,” he said. “But with the help I’ve already received from my players, the parents and coaches, I know I can keep winning.”