Bruce Pearl has earned a reputation as one of college basketball’s most energetic, outgoing and even outspoken coaches during his career. But one of the strongest statements ever made by the University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach came in the form of silence.
During the 2007-2008 basketball season, Pearl honored the wishes of star guard Chris Lofton. The all-conference senior had been diagnosed with testicular cancer and had surgery during the off-season. The process of defeating cancer included an entire season of playing intense Division I basketball games while recovering from the disease and the treatment for it. Lofton didn’t want anyone to know about his cancer until after the completion of the season, so Pearl remained silent.
With Lofton now public about his battle with cancer, coach Pearl is able to talk. And he’s talking with his heart by getting behind a project called OUTLIVE. Inspired by Lofton’s story, OUTLIVE will raise awareness of cancer prevention and detection while raising money for cancer outreach, education and screenings at The University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Cancer Institute.
“The OUTLIVE program is a great way for everyone to support cancer screenings and education at UT Medical Center while honoring a great Vol – Chris Lofton,” coach Pearl said. “Our team is excited about the opportunity to help such a great cause that has impacted us on a personal level.”
You can help coach Pearl and UT Medical Center fight cancer by purchasing an OUTLIVE t-shirt or by donating to OUTLIVE. T-shirts are available at utsports.com (click on OUTLIVE) or in person at either Tennessee Traditions location (Turkey Creek or at the Stokely Athletic Center on the UT campus). Shirts also will be sold at UT men’s basketball home games during January. T-shirts cost $15. For more information about OUTLIVE or to donate, call the UT Medical Center Office of Development at (865) 305-6611.
“We’re so thankful for the support of coach Pearl, Tennessee Athletics and everyone who has helped with the OUTLIVE program because cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States,” said Dr. Dan Green, a radiation oncologist at the UT Medical Center Cancer Institute. “Cancer kills one out of every four Americans. But lifestyle changes, screening and early detection can significantly reduce one’s chance of developing cancer.”
“Through education, outreach and screenings we can save lives,” said Dr. Fred Klein, a urologist at UT Medical Center’s Cancer Institute. “There has been an overall decrease in cancer and an increase in cancer survivors throughout the past 20 years and we attribute much of that to successful prevention and screening programs as well as advances in technology and treatment.”
Coach Pearl also is calling on UT fans to make a strong statement in the fight against cancer by wearing their OUTLIVE shirts to the home game against Florida on January 31. The game falls during the nationally recognized “Coaches vs. Cancer” week. Coach Pearl hopes all the OUTLIVE shirts will create a stunning vision, creating a “white-out” effect during the game and showing the commitment of Tennessee fans toward cancer prevention and early detection.
The OUTLIVE shirts will be available for purchase through February 3.
The Cancer Institute at The University of Tennessee Medical Center serves as the region’s only comprehensive cancer service that meets its patients’ needs in one location. Approximately 1,800 new cases of cancer are diagnosed and treated at UT Medical Center’s Cancer Institute every year and the Cancer Institute provided community screenings to more than 4,000 people in 2008.
The University of Tennessee Medical Center is a 581-bed, not-for-profit academic medical center, which serves as a referral center for Eastern Tennessee, Southeast Kentucky and Western North Carolina. The Medical Center, the region’s only Level I Trauma Center, is one of the largest employers in Knoxville. For more information about the University of Tennessee Medical Center, visit online at www.utmedicalcenter.org.