PROVO — One of these days, Dave Rose will actually begin to relax and take advantage of his decision to retire as BYU’s basketball coach.
But on Friday, he buried his dad.
For the past two decades, Rose’s life has been like a hamster on a wheel. His Division I coaching life has been a blur with clumps of timeouts, a lot of summers surrendered to attend tournaments, late-night film sessions, extensive travel and airport food as well as sleepless nights — after both wins and losses.
Then came his retirement in late March, a press conference filled with tears and smiles, a little laughter and a lot of hugs.
He made his annual trip to the Final Four and came home and discussed those games with his father at his bedside in the final hours of Jack Rose’s life.
Then came his annual April screening session at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City. Tests that have yet to be revealed and will determine if he needs a procedure or treatment.
On the day after Dave Rose's cancer screening, Jack Rose died after a long battle with cancer. His health taking a turn for the worse right after the Dave's retirement announcement. Jack Rose died on April 13, a few days before Dave’s wife, Cheryl, was scheduled to have hip replacement surgery. That now will be rescheduled.
When the funeral for Jack Rose took place, a chapter in the life of the Rose family concluded. More accurately, a milestone was achieved and precious life was celebrated.
Someday, Dave Rose will get on with this retirement deal. But it hasn’t come yet.
“When Dave decided to retire, it was a surprise to me,” Cheryl said. “But now, I see there was a purpose. He was needed by this family.”
Someday, said Cheryl, “we’ll find out about retirement.”
On May 22, Dave and Cheryl will host their annual golf tournament to raise money for cancer research, an event that raised $100,000 last year. The goal is to surpass that level this year at Alpine Country Club.
Before Rose retired, I had an opportunity to talk with him about things beyond game scores, recruiting, tournament win percentage and crowds at the Marriott Center. He spoke of his own blessing to be alive and a cause he’s poured his heart into, finding a cure for cancer.
Rose was humbled, appreciative and looking forward to life in increased gratitude.
This June is the 10th anniversary of that emotional and painful summer when Rose found out he had pancreatic cancer. That he is now an inspirational cancer survivor of a decade is a miracle in itself. Ever since being diagnosed he has been a warrior in fighting cancer, including this charity golf event.
“I hadn’t really thought about this being the 10th anniversary until lately,” said Rose. “You start to think about how many more birthdays you’ve enjoyed and you start thinking about all those people who are diagnosed with cancer. It is all about having more birthdays.”
The diagnosis for Rose came after experiencing extreme pain in his abdomen which did not subside but got worse. He was as surprised as anyone when doctors revealed he had pancreatic cancer and would need immediate surgery and treatments. Cancer of the pancreas is one of the most deadly cancers.
The initial finding on Rose discovered a grapefruit-sized tumor.
Since that time, Rose has had more than 30 MRIs, two per year. He has evaluations in September and April. The April visits to the doctor after basketball season are when aggressive treatments are done if needed. He has had radiation therapy, ultrasound examinations, and for the first time, had an extensive internal examination to check his liver, lungs and other organs that could be impacted.
“Some of the procedures are not that bad and I recover quickly, in a few days, but others have taken a while. The older you get, the longer it takes to heal,” Rose said.
“What it comes down to for those with cancer is the chance to celebrate another birthday, then another birthday,” said Rose.
In 1997, Rose joined Steve Cleveland’s staff at BYU, and the director of basketball operations then was current deputy athletic director Brian Santiago.
Ironically, the day of his retirement, it was Santiago who helped set the stage in substance and tone and looked for his replacement.
That Rose is now mourning his father, isn’t lost on Santiago.
“I've been with Dave from the first day. We came in together 22 years ago. Coach Rose and I have a special relationship. We've been together for a long time. We've been through a lot together and his family was a big part of that.”
The late Jack Rose was a mainstay in the background of BYU basketball games at home and away. He was a talented musician. Back when Dave coached at Dixie College, his parents would follow the play-by-play by holding a telephone in the air in a room so the family could hear. He loved following Dave’s exploits and was a die-hard BYU fan.6 comments on this story
“Starting with his parents and his siblings, we were all connected, we all spent time together, we all experienced the runs together, we all experienced the difficult times together. Days like where we almost lost him (Dave),” recalled Santiago.
“The relationships run really, really deep. So, in the middle of this transition, I’ve talked to Dave multiple times since he retired. His dad was such a fixture, being at the games when his health was failing, he was right there until the end. Our hearts have been heavy for the Rose family because even when it’s somewhat expected, this sting of death hurts and so our thoughts are with him.”
It’s all about lining up more birthdays.
And tag it big, relationships really do matter.