Longtime football referee recalls battle off the field

Posted on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Local football referee James Creasy, 67, was unaware he had cancer until he visited the doctor in 1990.

Creasy was told it was the largest tumor he had ever seen.

“Wow. This is interesting,” the testicular cancer survivor recalled saying to the doctor. “I didn’t have any symptoms or hurt.”

Days later, Creasy had surgery on the tumor, but further examinations revealed that his case was rare and the cancer had spread across his body. Doctors informed him that a tumor had formed underneath his heart.

Local football referee James Creasy, 67, said he was unaware he had testicular cancer in the early 1990s. But says he’s blessed to be alive after some intensive treatment.

Creasy said doctors were scared for him at Johnston-Willis Hospital in North Chesterfield. They offered him an approach with open-heart surgery and then chemotherapy as the second option.

“The surgeon was sharpening a scalpel and surgeons only get paid unless they are cutting open somebody,” Creasy said. “I said ‘we’re not doing no open heart surgery.’ I just had a decision to make and if I’m going to die than I’d rather take my chances with the chemo.”

Creasy said many people didn’t expect him to live through the treatment.

“He told my wife three times I wasn’t coming out of there,” Creasy said. “But I told him [the doctor] I am walking out of this hospital.”

After his chemotherapy, Creasy said he dropped in weight from 200 pounds to 123 with no hair on his body. He was out of commission for two years and in recovery for nine months.

Creasy said the doctor said his story to recovery was a miracle.

“It’s been over 20 years. I haven’t looked back and am not going to, but I’ve had a lot of friends that have passed away to cancer for all different kinds,” Creasy said. “I feel for people that have to go through this because it’s not any fun.”

Creasy said he didn’t have any inspiring story to rely on. He looked within.

“I had a nasty attitude. I was nail down determined that the disease wasn’t going to kill me,” Creasy said. “I was going to walk out of that hospital.”

Not only did Creasy get out of the wheelchair and walk out of the hospital on his own two feet, but officiated the 1996 Division III National Football Championship between Rowan and Mount Union Universities.

“I beat this stuff and got to the top to do the national championship,” Creasy said.

Creasy has been an official for 38 years and currently serves with the Central Virginia Football Officials and Old Dominion Athletic Associations.

During his career, he has traveled locally to cover games in the Tidewater, Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck. He is a native of Lynchburg and played high school football at E.C. Glass High and the former Frederick College.

Creasy said he makes sure to get a physical every year and recommends people suffering from any form of cancer to remain positive.

“You have got to think you are going to win, if you don’t you’re already done,” Creasy said. “God must’ve had a purpose for me because he gave me a second chance and hopefully make the most of it. I’m just happy to be here on Friday and Saturday doing what I love by officiating.”

According to the National Institute of Cancer, the United States has had an estimated number of 8,590 new cases involving testicular cancer during 2012 have been reported and from those cases 360 deaths have occurred.


Symptoms of Testicular Cancer

A painless lump or swelling in either testicle; a change in how the testicle feels; a dull ache in the lower abdomen or the groin; a sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum; or pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum.

Recommendation is to see a doctor as soon as possible

Source: National Institute of Cancer

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