Cause hits close to home

Kimberly Dees, the wife of offensive line coach Andrew Dees, opened up about her cancer experience at the Breast Cancer Awareness game.

Four-year-old Kara Dees and her 6-year-old brother Drew bounced between their parents, offensive line coach Andrew Dees and his wife, Kimberly, after the football team’s 24-19 win against Ball State in the Breast Cancer Awareness game.

Kimberly Dees said she enjoyed every single one of their skips, hops and jumps because two years ago, doctors diagnosed her with cancer.

“I’m glad we’re getting awareness out with this game,” she said. “Every year, this game makes me realize what I have and what I could have lost. In fact, we lost a very close friend this year to breast cancer. So the game brings up a lot of memories for me.”

Dees underwent surgery as part of her cancer treatment. Throughout her treatment, her husband’s players [Andrew Dees coached the tight ends in 2007] visited her regularly in the hospital, even as she tried to shield her own children from their disease.

“Kara was 2, and Drew was 4 at the time,” Kimberly Dees said. “They remember I had surgery, they know I had something, and they remember coming to the hospital, but I didn’t let them come there too much.

“But Andy’s players would come visit me,” she added. “That probably opened their eyes a little bit, and I don’t know if they knew anyone personally affected by cancer or not before me. So they’re aware, even the younger ones.”

In each of the four years Dees has coached at Temple, he has invited his players to his home during the summer to get to know him on a more personal level. That summer, in 2007, he said his players rallied around his family.

“I wasn’t there for two weeks during training camp, so they realized it was pretty serious,” Andrew Dees said. “They made sure my family was doing all right and asked us if we needed anything, and they did that on their own, visiting my wife. That’s the type of players and young men that they are. Cancer is something that we all deal with and that affects everyone.”

For now, Kimberly Dees’ oncologist has granted her a one-year reprieve, a good diagnosis given that in the past she scheduled CAT scans every six months. She did face complications from her surgery and cannot open her right eye for now, though corrective surgery for that may be an option at some point.
“Right now, I’m in a good place,” she said. “Hopefully, getting this awareness can help others who have faced or will face similar situations.”

Jennifer Reardon can be reached at jennifer.reardon@temple.edu.

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