Giants special teams coordinator dealing with cancer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Thomas McGaughey has been doing more in the offseason than getting the New York Giants’ special teams ready for the opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The 45-year-old coordinator has been undergoing treatment for a rare form of cancer that strikes roughly 8,000 people in the United States annually.
It’s called Periampullary cancer, a bile duct cancer located near the small intestine. McGaughey has been receiving oral medication and chemotherapy. He is now on his fifth round, and has a couple more left.
“It’s going good,” McGaughey said Thursday while disclosing his diagnosis and treatment with the media for the first time.
Still, the treatments have left him drained at times. He missed time during organized team activities in the spring. The Giants compensated by asking Tom Quinn, the team’s special teams coordinator under Ben McAdoo and Tom Coughlin, to join Pat Shurmur’s staff.
The thought of taking time away from football and concentrating on his healthy never entered McGaughey’s head. He even returns to work as soon as his chemo is finished.
“As a football coach, you don’t think of that stuff,” McGaughey said. “You get up. You do what you do, and live life. I am not going to let any chemotherapy, cancer or anything else get in the way of what I do. I am a football coach. I am a father, a football coach and that’s what I do. I’ve got to get up every day. Nobody really cares, and they are not going to feel sorry for you. It’s get up and go to work.”
McGaughey isn’t the only member of the organization being treated for cancer. General manager Dave Gettleman was diagnosed with lymphoma this spring.
“We share our chemotherapy stories, and talk about the medication, and that stuff,” McGaughey said with a smile. “We definitely have our conversations. Dave’s a great man and it is what it is. We just have to fight through it and keep it moving.”
McGaughey said a scan of his system three weeks ago was fine.
McGaughey said the cancer was discovered by good fortune after he had two bouts with sepsis, a condition that happens when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs.
Doctors performed an endoscopy and found a growth in his bile duct.
“They removed it,” McGaughey said. “I had a very extensive procedure called a Whipple Procedure, and during the Whipple they found a cancer on one of my lymph nodes and I have been undergoing chemotherapy for the last about two months.”
Shurmur said Quinn was brought to help McGaughey on the “tough” days. However, he said McGaughey is handling everything.
“T-Mac has been doing a great job and he has our guys ready to play,” Shurmur said.
The one question that made McGaughey laugh was when he was asked what his thoughts would be if Shurmur let rookie Saquon Barkley handle the kickoff returns and Odell Beckham Jr. run the punts back.
“Thank God,” McGaughey said. “These guys are playmakers and any time you get a chance to put a playmaker on the field and give you the best chance to win, you know, that’s what you want to do. You are trying to win the game. That’s the purpose of it.”
NOTES: LB Olivier Vernon missed another practice with the ankle injury and he is looking doubtful for the opener. ... Defensive coordinator James Bettcher says if Vernon can play a number of people will fill his role with Connor Barwin and rookie Lorenzo Carter, the most likely. ... Offensive coordinator Mike Shula on what he saw in rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta. “We think Kyle is a young guy that just has continued to get better with reps. He’s got very good football intelligence. I think he’s got some intangibles that you need at that position.”