Washington Football coach Ron Rivera said on "Good Morning America" Monday that he has three weeks of treatment and one round of chemotherapy remaining to treat the cancer he was diagnosed with before the season.
Rivera, speaking a day after his team suffered a 31-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, has enduring five treatments a week on top of coaching duties.
"It's who I am," said Rivera, who is battling Squamous Cell Carcinoma. "Listening to the doctors talk about how important it is to try and do as much of the routine as possible, but they also tell you, 'Hey, be careful, listen to your body.'"
Rivera heeded that advice Sunday evening, as he hydrated and "tried to eat" before watching the remaining games in the late-afternoon window and retired to bed by 8 p.m.
Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera on the sideline against the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at FedExField. (Photo: Brad Mills, USA TODAY Sports)
Earlier in the day, the coach wore a "Rivera Strong" T-shirt on the sideline — his staff also wore the shirts and players had them on during warmups. The gestures didn't stop there. Washington players and others around the league purchased carboard cutouts, replacing fans at FedEx Field, to raise more than $30,000 for the American Cancer Society.
"It means a lot," the 58-year-old said. "When I first was diagnosed, I was angry. And then as I've kind of gone through this, it’s ‘Why me?’ But people have reached out and talked to me and have given me their examples or their well wishes. It helps push me forward because when you go through this you need a support system and when you have the right type of people pushing you, man, I'll tell you what, it really helps get your momentum pushing forward."
One of the cutouts in the "Coach's Corner" was Rivera's late brother Mickey, who passed away after a fight against pancreatic cancer in 2015.
"That really hit me. It’s hitting me now, because Mickey was such a fighter," Rivera said. "Just to see him again — that hit home. That was great. It was awesome."
Beyond his late brother, Rivera draws inspiration from being someone others look up to, and from those who have walked the path of cancer diagnosis, including the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
"There's other people watching me, so I'm just trying to set the example," he said. "Hey, RBG, she went through it. So I can, too."
Anchor Robin Roberts noted that Rivera has access to elite medical care, and the coach emphasized healthcare accessibility and affordability while touting the league-wide emphasis on voting in next month's elections.
"There's so much that goes into this and it’s so expensive," he said. "If we don’t have quality health care — we're the richest country in the world, we should — everyone deserves the opportunity to fight and fight with everything that they're given.
"People have to go vote and they have to go vote their conscience, because it's important."
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
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