December 21, 2010
Anthony Calvillo's recovery may not be quite as easy as was thought last week. Analysis of the results from surgery last week to remove a lesion on his thyroid confirmed the frightening fears that surged when he first announced he needed surgery immediately after winning this year's Grey Cup (in the press conference pictured at right); the lesion in Calvillo's throat did in fact contain cancerous cells. In response to that discovery, Calvillo underwent another surgery today to completely remove his thyroid gland.
Calvillo is apparently recovering well and the Alouettes are optimistic he'll be fully recovered and back for the start of training camp in June. However, there's still a tough path ahead of him. He'll have to undergo radioactive iodine therapy in January, and he'll then have to go on hormone replacement therapy (likely for the rest of his life) to make up for the loss of his thyroid.
The thyroid's a critically important gland for regulating many of the body's functions, particularly those related to metabolism and appetite. With it removed, people experience hypothyroidism, or underproduction of the hormones T3 and T4. That can cause symptoms including tiredness, baldness, issues handling heat and cold, and weight gain. Hormone therapy replaces those hormones synthetically, but their levels have to be carefully monitored at all times, as high levels of thyroid hormones also cause issues (this is a condition known as hyperthyroidism, which can create its own problems, including tremors, anxiety, rapid heart rate and heart palpitations).
It's quite possible Calvillo can recover from this and return to the spectacular form he displayed this year, when he was a runner-up for the league's Most Outstanding Player award (and probably should have won it). As I remarked in my initial piece on his revelation, the way he hid his health struggles from the public for much of the season and locked them out of his mind while putting on a superb quarterbacking performance demonstrates his extraordinary focus, and that should definitely help if he decides to return to the gridiron. Particularly given his wife's previous battle with cancer, though, it's not inconceivable that Calvillo could change his mind and retire to spend more time with his family. It's also possible that further health complications could arise. Things aren't looking too bad for Calvillo at the moment, but there's a long way to go before he's under centre for the Alouettes again.