U of L radio announcer Bob Valvano watches their game against Syracuse at the Yum Center in Louisville, Ky. on Feb. 19, 2020. Uofl Syracuse18 Sam

Displaying the kind of cheerful resolve that would make his brother proud, ESPN broadcaster and ESPN 680 Louisville radio host Bob Valvano began his show on Monday the best way he knew how.

With jokes.

This was his first media appearance since revealing his Stage 4 leukemia diagnosis last week. According to Valvano, the stark revelation led to false rumors prompting him to spend the first four minutes of his show setting the record straight.

“No, I’m not dead,” he said. “I’m here. I’m doing the show today, tomorrow, and Wednesday, unforeseen circumstances notwithstanding. I feel pretty good. In fairness, I haven’t started treatment yet, I start treatment Thursday. There was some confusion about that…. I will keep you posted. I’ve decided that I’m going to be writing about it so you’re going to be subjected to my various musings about this procedure. For my own psyche as much as anything, I’m going to try and find some humor in it. I’ve already found some.”

Valvano followed that up with a rant about medical acronyms.

“I’m annoyed at the abbreviations they use because we don’t know anything about cancer. We’re not doctors. We’re sitting in the room and they said something about me having ATM. Do I have a bank machine in me? What is that supposed to mean? … Maybe that’s what the port was for. The bills come out rolled up and off you go.”

“There’s another term they use, SUV. Do they expect me to buy a new car?  There’s a tiny little car going around in my veins picking up the bad blood cells?”

“And every time they tell me I have CLL, when I hear that, the only thing that comes to mind is the Central Lacrosse League. I think they’re playing lacrosse in there somewhere.”

After addressing his diagnosis, Valvano’s radio show sounded much like it normally does. Following Thursday’s chemotherapy, he will be away from work for at least 10 days. He hopes to return within the next few weeks depending on how the treatment goes.

Valvano’s sense of humor has helped him get through difficult moments. He has been battling health issues over the years, including two heart attacks. In April, he was experiencing a multitude of symptoms that forced him to take a leave of absence from his radio show in an effort to figure out what was going on.

Sadly, the CLL he was referring to stands for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

According to the American Cancer Society website, CLL is the most common leukemia among adults. “This type of cancer starts in cells that become certain white blood cells (called lymphocytes) in the bone marrow. The cancer cells start in the bone marrow but then go into the blood.

The leukemia cells often build up slowly. Many people don’t have any symptoms for at least a few years. But over time, the cells grow and spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen.”

Before the diagnosis, Valvano, a former basketball coach, joked that he was hoping to get a No.16-seed when it came to cancer. Instead, he’s facing the toughest opponent of his life. This was the news he had been dreading but was also bracing for. Valvano knew leukemia was a possibility since last year when he was diagnosed with monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis.

Cancer has unfortunately been a constant presence within the Valvano family. It took the life of Bob’s older brother and former N.C. basketball coach Jim Valvano as well as his mother. The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded by his late brother and Bob sits on the board of directors. Bob Valvano also started Kentuckiana Friends of V which donates money locally within his home state of Kentucky.

While it’s a difficult time, the Valvanos remain optimistic.

”It’s a little sobering when you hear Stage 4,” Valvano’s son Nick told Eric Crawford of Louisville television station WDRB. “Always a little nerve wracking. It’s in the bones, at least knocking on the door of the lymph nodes. . . . But we’re going to beat it.”

To donate to The V Foundation, visit here.

To donate to Kentuckiana Friends of V, visit here.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant, Anthony Grant, Amy Grant or Hugh Grant.