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Cancer scare bonds Kyles family closer

Cancer scare bonds Kyles family closer

MILWAUKEE -- When Monica Kyles learned that her husband had prostate cancer, she was speechless.

As Brewers bullpen coach Stan Kyles sat her down just after their 12-year anniversary, cancer was the farthest thing from Monica Kyles' mind.

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"That was not at all what I expected him to tell me," she said. "When we sat down, I thought he was going to tell me that the Brewers had called and said they were going in another direction with the team. That is the first thing that came to my mind."

Likewise, Marques Kyles said learning that his father had cancer was "hard to take."

On March 17, the day his father called and informed him of the diagnosis, Marques Kyles was on his way to Bob Prevatte Field as his Limestone College baseball team was scheduled to host Francis Marion in a non-conference matchup.

That phone call only made a tough day that much worse.

"A year ago to the day, one of my best friends had died in a car accident," Marques Kyles said. "It was just that much tougher having heard the news from my dad.

"My dad's also one of my best friends, so just hearing that he was going through something like that -- and all I really heard was 'cancer,' so I was devastated."

For the Kyles family and all those involved, the news of Stan Kyles' cancer was surprising, to say the least. When the team announced he would have surgery in late April, Kyles himself admitted to being "in shock" when he was diagnosed back in February.

Getting from the initial diagnosis to Stan Kyles' eventual return to the club on May 25 was not exactly easy, either.

According to Monica Kyles, it's something that was always on her mind.

"I've never had a problem sleeping," Monica Kyles said. "So I went from sleeping very easily, eight to nine hours a night, to sleeping anywhere from an hour to four hours a night.

"Even after the surgery was complete, it was still touch and go. I had a lot of sleepless nights. That was the big, big thing -- just constant worry."

Since then, however, the diagnosis, surgery and recovery have only brought the family closer together.

For Monica and Marques Kyles, after they both had learned of Stan Kyles' diagnosis, their communication increased quite a bit, as they talked daily on the phone.

In addition to talking more frequently with his stepmother, as well as keeping in close contact with his father, Marques Kyles found yet another source of support.

"I'm a big believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason," Marques Kyles said. "I'm also a follower of Jesus Christ, so when I heard about my dad, it was tough, but my faith drove me to take a lot of time to pray about it. That really helped me great through it."

Since the successful surgery and Stan Kyles' return to the Brewers less than four weeks later, the bad news they received in February has turned into a blessing in disguise.

For Stan Kyles, it has changed his outlook on life.

"There's just a new vigor about what I want to do," he said the day of his return. "At the park or away from the park with my family ... I'm looking forward to everything. The good, the bad, even the struggles that we went through ... it didn't seem as bad."

Perhaps more importantly, the diagnosis has raised the family's awareness of the realities of prostate cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer accounts for approximately one in four newly diagnosed cancers each year among American men, while an estimated 217,730 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2010.

An expected 32,050 men in the U.S. will die from prostate cancer in 2010, as it is the second-most common cause of cancer death in men, behind only lung cancer.

As a part of its commitment to the fight against prostate cancer, Major League Baseball supports the Prostate Cancer Foundation and its Home Run Challenge each year around Father's Day.

Anyone can donate to the PCF Home Run Challenge on the Prostate Cancer Foundation website, while each home run hit in 60 selected games in June -- including all 15 games on Father's Day -- raises money to fight prostate cancer, the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in America.

To show their support for the Home Run Challenge, all players will wear blue wristbands and blue PCF ribbons on their uniforms on Father's Day.

With prostate cancer affecting about one in six men in their lifetime, it's certainly something that's higher on Marques Kyles' radar now.

"I had a teacher in Fall 2008 who had prostate cancer," Marques Kyles said. "At the time, though, I didn't really think about it. I didn't realize how many men really suffered through that. But once it hit home and had an effect on my own family, it had a greater impact.

"A lot of times cancer can be hereditary. So, it makes me take more precaution in my future and the things that I want for my life and hopefully the family I have some day."

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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