- The Washington Times - Friday, October 23, 2020

ASHBURN — Washington coach Ron Rivera said Friday that he’s received news that his cancer is “headed in the right direction” as he nears his final treatment session.

Speaking to reporters after practice, Rivera said he’ll undergo his last scheduled treatment on Monday. Rivera’s treatment plan called for 35 treatments over seven weeks, which involved sessions of chemotherapy and proton therapy.

Rivera said he met with his doctors on Tuesday and Thursday to check on his progress. He said that they told him that treatment had gone well.

“They were both very positive about the progress I’ve made,” Rivera said. “So far, so good. I’ve got follow up check ups and scans still left to do, but what I’ve been told is it’s headed in the right direction.”

In August, shortly into the team’s training camp, Rivera revealed that doctors had discovered cancer in his lymph node. Rivera said then that it was a treatable form of cancer and planned to continue coaching.

Over the past few months, there have been moments when Rivera has had to either step away or take it easy during practice. He can be seen riding around in a golf cart at practices, usually in the shade. During games, Rivera has been spotted sitting on the bench in between timeouts and has received IV treatments at halftime to stay hydrated.

Rivera said the treatment has been difficult on his body. He told reporters Friday that the side effects can cause him to get nauseous, fatigued and dizzy at “anywhere, anytime.” These days, he goes home at 5 p.m. — four to six hours earlier than usual schedule as a coach. “I told my wife, it’s like having a 300-pound gorilla on your back,” he said.

“I am looking forward to (coaching at full strength),” Rivera said. “It’s probably going to take three to four weeks after I get my last treatment because of the recovery period. But I am really looking forward to it.”

Around Washington’s facility, Rivera’s assistant coaches and players have been impressed with the way Rivera has handled his battle with cancer.

“Seeing him going through what he’s going through and coming out to work here every day, it’s actually inspiring,” defensive backs coach Chris Harris said. “I understand the whole chemotherapy thing. That’s rough on your body. It completely zaps you. To see him do that and then out there at practice (and) coaching, it’s actually refreshing to see and the guys enoy seeing it.

“I tell them: ‘You don’t have anything to complain about. I mean you really don’t.’ I let our guys know, when you think you got it bad, you don’t. … It’s been an inspiration to me as well as to the team.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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