Dick Harmon: Hope is a real thing for BYU basketball coach Dave Rose on Father's Day

Published: Saturday, June 15 2013 4:00 p.m. MDT

Right before Father's Day four years ago, Dave Rose received the scare of a lifetime.

On June 5, 2009, the BYU basketball coach got so sick on a flight from California to Las Vegas — where he was going for his wife's family reunion after a family vacation to Disneyland — he couldn't even sit up. An ambulance met his plane on the tarmac to take him to the hospital, where doctors removed a large tumor that had spread to his spleen from the tail of his pancreas.

Tests at the Huntsman Cancer Institute revealed a neuroendocrine tumor, a rare form of pancreatic cancer. According to the Huntsman Cancer Institute, his kind of pancreatic cancer is "the only form that can be successfully treated."

Because the cancer had spread to his spleen and lymph nodes, he can never be considered cured and must be tested every six months. Each time he’s declared NED, or “No Evidence of Disease,” Rose is given a new lease on life.

This Sunday, Rose will gather around his children, where they will try very hard to bring him gifts they feel he would like. He’s hard to shop for because he has everything, especially what matters most — his presence in their presence.

His oldest daughter Chanell Reichner, who lives in Spokane, Wash., explains the gift-giving conundrum this way:

“Father’s Day is definitely one of my least favorite holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad — in fact I would consider myself a genuine daddy’s girl. The reason I really hate Father’s Day is my dad is impossible to buy gifts for. It’s also why I hate his birthday and it even puts a serious damper on my Christmas spirit. My dad has no hobbies — he doesn’t fish, doesn’t read, doesn’t build things, and he only plays golf for charity. He doesn’t need anything. Mr. Mac and Nike outfit him with any apparel he needs.

“I could always buy him a tie, but that’s risky because if he wears it when his team loses it’s going straight to Deseret Industries. We’ve tried to get him creative gifts like a frosty mug for his Diet Coke and practical gifts like emergency kits for his car. We’ve even tried sentimental gifts like framed pictures of his children, but then I just feel silly giving him a picture of myself. The fact is, we all know exactly what my dad wants. It’s what he always wants. He wants to win. But wins are a little tricky to track down and extremely difficult to wrap.”

Dave Rose is a hero to his children. To them, he seems invincible. They see their dad like the poet in Proverbs 20:7, who wrote, “The just man walketh in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.”

When Rose got sick, Chanell was married, her brother Garrett had just gotten married and Dave and Cheryl were expecting their fourth grandchild. The family hadn’t been to Disneyland since the youngest sibling, Taylor, who was entering high school, was in preschool.

That day four years ago, invincible took a hit. A man who played on the University of Houston’s famed Phi Slamma Jamma team was down.

“As I watched my dad get sicker and sicker in the hospital in Las Vegas, it was very unsettling for our entire family,” said Chanell.

“My dad didn’t get sick. He didn’t get hurt. He once water skied at Lake Powell with a ‘stomachache,’ only to find out his appendix was about to rupture. My dad was strong, so as we watched him suffer we were all very scared. We all hoped it was nothing, but I think we all knew it was serious. I sat by my dad’s bedside so my mom could take a break. My dad laid there with his eyes closed, but he wasn’t sleeping. I knew he was suffering. And I had the thought that he was a ticking time bomb. Something terrible was coming.

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