Skin Cancer and Managing Work and Life

“Riverboat” Ron Rivera is the head coach of the National Football League's (NFL), Washington Football Team. He received the nickname for his risky, gambling coaching style when the stakes are high. Coach Rivera is at the top of his profession. There are only 31 others in the world who do what he does. He works in a highly competitive industry where you are judged only by wins and losses.

In the NFL, you leave a legacy by winning the Super Bowl. Second place finishers and runners up are rarely recognized or remembered. Heavy stress is part of an NFL head coach’s daily existence. This has been exacerbated during a worldwide pandemic and all that 2020 has brought us. There were other major changes within the organization that required special attention and delicate management.

Ron Rivera's skin cancer diagnosis

“Riverboat” Ron, 58, has had a lot on his plate. Then, in August he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. He has been coaching and battling cancer ever since. With chemotherapy treatments peppered in his daily schedule of scouting opponents, formulating game plans, and conducting practices and meetings, Coach Rivera’s plate is indeed full.1

How he copes with squamous cell

What has his response been?

Positivity and focus

According to his wife, Stephanie, Ron has remained positive and focuses on what he can control. He continues to prepare, work hard, and manage his time and energy. Life lessons have taught him to keep things in perspective. He lost his brother Mickey to pancreatic cancer in 2015.1

A disciplined routine

Coach Rivera grew up in a military household and maintains a disciplined lifestyle, which helps him handle his cancer treatments. He begins every day by making his bed very early and heads for 10-minute proton treatments, five days a week at about 7:30 am. After work, he helps around the house and tries to go to bed by 10 pm.1

Giving himself a break

He has made some concessions, such as not driving to his appointments, meeting with reporters via video conferencing, and taking regular naps. This planning helps him handle the stress of his job and diagnosis. He remains stable and is a consistent leader during difficult times. An avid reader, Ron leans on the stories of others who have faced challenges.1

Lessons from Ron's skin cancer journey

So, what do I take from this?

  • Coach Rivera’s prognosis is good because his skin cancer was caught early. I am reminded to get regular checkups and encourage others, too.
  • Coach Rivera has support around him. I am reminded to find community support when I need it and support others, too.
  • Coach Rivera has a routine. I am reminded to be disciplined and live a healthy, balanced life.
  • Coach Rivera maintains a positive attitude. I am reminded to count my blessings and give attention to those things which are under my control.
  • Coach Rivera sets high goals. I am reminded to set the bar high in my life and focus on those things that I can accomplish. In this way, I can encourage others as well.

I am 56 and I am reminded that I am never too old to try something new. I am not sure if I will ever be “Riverboat” Scott, but Coach Rivera’s example inspires me to be the best version of me.

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