When Richard Norman, Assistant Head Football Coach at Kell High School in Marietta, GA, talks to his players -- they listen.
"He's an awesome coach, you can learn stuff from life from him, " says senior Evan Carnes.
And Norman has learned a lot about life, too, because of what happened to him last season,
"Half way through, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer." Norman says.
It was a shock. Norman, who is in his late 50's, hadn't had a single symptom. He'd only gone in for a checkup to appease his wife.
"My wife made me go to my normal annual physical, like men normally don't like to do," Norman says, "But she made me go. We discovered my PSA level was high."
Measured with a blood test, a high PSA - or prostate specific antigen - level can be a warning sign of prostate cancer. But, PSA levels fluctuate, and prostate cancer often grows so slowly, treatment may not be necessary. When Norman came to see Wellstar Health System urologist Beau Dusseault, the doctor suggested waiting a few months, and testing Norman's his PSA level again, They did that.; this time his PSA level was higher, but only slightly.
"Based on that number alone, the argument could've been made to wait six more months and try again," Dusseault says. "But, given the trend, the rise, that probably wouldn't have been the best choice which is why we ended up doing the biopsy."
Even after his biopsy, Norman, who continued to coach, was still classified as "low risk."
Still, half of the dozen or so samples collected during his prostate biopsy turned out "positive" for cancer, a sign Norman's disease may have been more aggressive than they'd initially thought.
And it wasn't just that. Both of his parents have battled cancer. Norman wanted it out of his body.
So, he opted for surgery to take out his prostate gland.
"It wasn't that hard of a decision." Norman says. "Because, luckily enough, we caught it early enough to where I didn't have to go through the chemotherapy and everything."
The surgery went well, but took Norman off the sidelines for two months in the middle of his team's season. Today, he's back -- coaching, teaching these young men about the game and life --cancer-free.
"That's the most important thing for us men is we've got to go to the doctor every year," says Norman."There's nothing wrong to have to go through the exam and everything. It's something you need to do to be a survivor."
Kell High School made it through the first round of football playoffs last week. Friday night, they will take on Coffee County High School, with coach Norman on the sidelines, coaching and cheering his team on.