State rep, football coach faces cancer surgery, hopes his story can help others

  • 5986325_web1_Todd-football2017925155410150.jpg

A Hilo state representative and football coach told the Tribune-Herald he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

ADVERTISING


A Hilo state representative and football coach told the Tribune-Herald he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Chris Todd, a 29-year-old freshman legislator who is also offensive coordinator for the Hilo High School varsity football team, said he “found a bump” on his left testicle in late August.

Todd said the recent death of a family friend from cancer and the cancer death last October of a 19-year-old former Vikings player, Skyler Maltezo-Ogata, convinced him to see a doctor.

“I’m usually not the best about this, but I thought I should get this checked out,” Todd said. “The initial examination, they thought it wasn’t cancer.”

But an ultrasound test Sept. 11 and follow-up visit with urologist Dr. Gregory Thibault contradicted the early assessment.

“He felt something that wasn’t right,” Todd said. “Based on the ultrasound results, which he was able to show me, he said, ‘You have testicular cancer.’ It turns out, when I went in to get it looked at, it was nothing. And that’s something, I guess, that’s really common. I just happened to catch it at the right time, hopefully.”

Todd said he’ll have surgery Wednesday to remove the testicle at Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center on Oahu. His wife, Britney Carey, will travel to Honolulu with him.

“It’s a pretty quick procedure. The surgery’s an hour and a half or two hours. They wake you up from the anesthesia and you can go home,” Todd said, adding he would have to “take it easy” for about two weeks.

“But after that, I should be up and running,” he said.

According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for localized testicular cancer is 99 percent.

“I’m hoping we caught this early. The initial blood work is good. It doesn’t show signs that this has progressed. That’s not an end all, be all, but it’s a good sign,” he said. “I’ll have a follow up scan on Friday. Then, based on the results of that, hopefully, the surgery takes care of everything. If not, then I’ll have follow-up treatment, whether it’s additional surgery or radiation, or chemotherapy.”

Todd told the football team about his cancer diagnosis and impending surgery after the Vikings’ 28-14 win against Kamehameha on Friday night. He said he waited because he “didn’t want to distract” the players.

“I’m not a really emotional guy, but it was kind of a tough time telling them,” he said. “I’ve been with some of them actually six years. I coached them in intermediate (school). They were really good. They prayed over me. They’re resilient. They’ll be OK.

“I call all the plays; a couple of other coaches will be doing that. I know I’m not going to be with them the next couple of games, at least. But I’ll help them however I can, like game planning and going over film.”

Kahale Huddleston, the Vikings standout senior running back, said he considers Todd “part of the family.”

“Everybody took it pretty hard, but we’re just going to keep our head up and keep moving forward. Hopefully, everything goes well for him.”

Kaleo Apao, a senior who starts at both quarterback and safety, called Todd “a big role model to all of us … in life as well as in football.”

“After hearing about what he had it just kind of teared me up,” Apao said. “I was always on the defensive side of the ball … and he trusted me to come to the offensive side of the ball. It was him. He helped me to get to this position, as well as all of my teammates.”

Todd, Huddleston, Apao and the entire Viking ohana were affected last season by the death of Maltezo-Ogata, a 2016 Hilo High graduate.

“It was a big thing for us,” Todd said. “He was with us during that season after he graduated. He was a big source of inspiration. But it’s just another reminder that a lot of things are impermanent. And if it could happen to him, who was a perfectly healthy, athletic young guy, then it could happen to anyone.”

Todd also reflected on the irony of his own cancer diagnosis.

“I’ve never smoked a cigarette. I’ve never drunk excessively. I’ve never done drugs. It doesn’t discriminate,” he said.

Todd, a Democrat, is a full-time legislator. He was appointed in January by Gov. David Ige to the House District 2 seat, which became vacant after longtime Rep. Clift Tsuji died shortly after being re-elected last November.

The Legislature is not currently in session, and Todd said the surgery “shouldn’t impact my ability to do my job.”

“I’m going to miss a couple of events. I was looking forward to a couple of things, like the (Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce) Founders Ball. My wife is Portuguese, and we were looking forward to it. But we’ll be OK,” he said.

ADVERTISING


“Hopefully, something good will come out of this. Men aren’t great with health issues, and we’re reluctant, a lot of times, to deal with this stuff. So I’m hoping that by going through this in the public eye, maybe somebody who has something they should get checked out, that this is a reminder for them to do that.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiwarriorworld@staradvertiser.com.