Doctors may have to amputate former San Francisco Giants pitcher Dave Dravecky's left arm to prevent a second cancerous tumor from spreading.
Dravecky returned to the mound in 1989 after undergoing surgery eight months earlier to remove a tumor from the same arm. He retired after breaking the weakened arm twice late in the 1989 season.Dravecky said during a recent interview that the cancer returned last summer.
"They could possibly have to amputate my arm," Dravecky said while waiting to deliver a motivational speech about his comeback from the earlier bout with cancer. "We've tried everything else. There could be no other choice."
Dravecky said he underwent eight weeks of radiation therapy that left his arm virtually immobile and subject to painful infections. Recent tests did not reveal any new cancer cells.
Next Friday, he is scheduled to meet with doctors at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York to examine the results more closely.
"Amputation is something that I have already accepted," he said. "I am very much prepared. If the doctors say they are strongly considering amputation, I will say, `Fine, get it off. Get rid of it."'
The deeply religious Dravecky, who authored a book, "Comeback," about overcoming adversity, outlines his dilemma in even, measured tones. He said he has faith that God will guide him through his latest trial.
"My focus is not just on how I can become healed, but how can I serve God through all this," Dravecky said. "You better believe I want to get better. Man, I really want to be healed. But I understand that may not happen, and it doesn't mean God is an ogre."
During cancer surgery in October, 1988, doctors removed 50 percent of the major pitching muscle in Dravecky's arm. On Aug. 10, 1989, Dravecky used the arm to pitch eight strong innings and defeat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 in his first outing of the year.
But five days later, Dravecky broke the arm pitching against Montreal. The bone healed and Dravecky was considering another comeback. But in October, the arm was broken again as Dravecky rushed onto the field to join teammates celebrating after the Giants won the National League Western Division championship.
Dravecky retired from baseball and devoted himself to a new career speaking to church and convention groups about the role of faith in his recovery.
Atlee Hammaker, close friend and former Giant who now pitches for the San Diego Padres, said Dravecky adjusted well to life after baseball. Even now, Dravecky rarely seems discouraged.
"Dave doesn't get discouraged about the arm, but he has gotten discouraged about things in general," Hammaker said. "But those thoughts only seem to last a moment. Then he goes back to his faith. He has some real faith."