MIDWEST CITY — Carl Albert defensive coordinator Mike Corley was just finishing his 35th round of radiation treatment and his third go of chemotherapy. Corley was about as low has he had been in the few months since he was first diagnosed with cancer.
“Mike was kind of down that particular night when the kids heard someone outside,” Corley's wife, Teah, said. “We opened the door, and there was about 12 to 15 football players walking up to our door.”
They brought Mike Corley a backpack, prayed with him and just spent time with their coach.
The players couldn't have known just how much it meant. And it came at the perfect time.
“You look back on your teaching and coaching, and you hope you influence kids in the right way,” Corley said. “As a young coach, you start out and you think that it's all about winning, but you find out real quick it's not. It's about the influence that you have on them.”
Corley has been continuously reminded of that influence since he was diagnosed, after discovering a lump on the side of his neck.
Sharon Corley, Mike's mother, said these reminders are some of the little blessings that come from anything — even something as dreaded as a cancer diagnosis.
She should know. Sharon has been living with cancer for a decade and done plenty to show her son how to handle the ordeal.
“It was the hardest thing I've ever done, hearing that he had cancer,” Sharon said. “I would've gone through it 100,000 times for him not to have to go through it. I think I went through it so I could help him.”
One of the blessings of Sharon's diagnosis, in addition to helping Mike prepare for his own treatment, has been the additional time spent with her children and grandchildren.
Sharon and Bob Corley still live in Pawhuska, where Mike was raised, but they come to Oklahoma City every three weeks for treatment at OU Medical Center.
The trips allow them to see Mike's daughter, Blythe, play softball for Carl Albert or his son, Cline, play football for the middle school.
One of the first things Mike Corley did after the diagnosis was to walk to Carl Albert head coach Gary Rose's house.
Rose lives near the Corleys and hired him nine years ago from Duncan.
“We sat out on the patio and cried together,” Rose said. “When you hear the ‘C' word, you immediately think you might die from this. We talked about that, our faith and his mother.”
Rose knew what cancer could do. His mother died from breast cancer when Rose was in his early 20s, five years after she'd been diagnosed.
Radiation and chemotherapy treatments zapped Corley of energy.
He stayed home this summer while the Titans went through their weightlifting program.
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