WSU hoops voice undaunted by cancer

SPOKANE -- Bud Nameck makes a good living by creating excitement and drama when he works on Washington State basketball and football radio broadcasts. When Nameck talks about his battle with cancer, however, he does so with no excitement or drama in his voice. Nameck simply gives you the cold, hard facts and calmly explains how he plans to give cancer a thorough whuppin'.

"I'm an optimistic person," Nameck said over coffee late last week at a diner in downtown Spokane. "Maybe I'm stubborn and naïve, too.

"I just felt this was something that happens in my life that I'm going to overcome and move forward on. It's not an experience I would wish on anyone, but the only way I know how to deal with it is to make it a positive experience."

Nameck may be the first person to refer to cancer as a "positive" experience, but let him explain.

"It changes your perspective a little bit," said Nameck, who has been the voice of Cougar basketball for the last 15 years. "It gets your attention, that's for sure, because when you go to the hospital or Cancer Care Northwest and you look around, there's always someone dealing with something that's worse than what you're dealing with.

BUD IS ALSO A FIXTURE AT WSU FOOTBALL GAMES AS THE RADIO SIDELINE REPORTER.

"I look at that, and I feel blessed we found this early and that I'm young enough and in good health shape to treat it and continue on with my life."

Nameck, 52, learned he was diagnosed with large cell aggressive lymphoma when he was contacted by phone as he headed to Pullman to broadcast the WSU-California basketball game Jan. 8. He had undergone surgery a week earlier to remove a gradually growing lump on his head ("About the size of half a ping-pong ball") that doctors originally thought was unrelated to cancer.

Nameck's reaction to his diagnosis was incredibly poised, particularly when one realizes that he drove two friends to the game but didn't say a word about the cancer because he wanted to break the news to his wife Diane first.

"I knew, ‘OK, I'm dealing with cancer here,' so it gets your attention," Nameck recalled. "Plus, I'm driving to Pullman and I've got to concentrate on broadcasting the game …"

Nameck said doctors are confident they caught the cancer early enough that he should be fine once he completes the last of 17 radiation treatments May 12. Each radiation session lasts just 15 seconds, but the radiation began only after Nameck endured four lengthy chemotherapy sessions, including three during the basketball season. He lost his hair, but he never missed a game.

Nameck said the treatments have zapped some of his legendary energy level, but he's missed little work. The former Santa Clara University third baseman hopes to soon resume his daily exercise regimen, which includes plenty of golf when he's not trying to keep up with 9-year-old daughter Kelsey.

In addition to his Cougar radio work, Nameck sells radio commericials, co-hosts a talk show on Spokane's ESPN Radio affiliate, serves as the station's program director, sells ads for and helps coordinate the production of WSU's football and basketball game programs, and more.

Nameck said he didn't say much about his cancer battle during basketball season "because I wanted the focus to be on basketball," but he's speaking out now because he wants to encourage people to get regular check-ups with their doctors. He also wants to thank all his well-wishers, particularly those who sent messages via Cougfan.com.

"It was very touching," Nameck said. "That's been the most humbling thing about this whole ordeal: The support that I've received from friends and family and people I don't even know, but who know me just from the work on the radio and with the Cougs.

"It was something that touched me deeply, and I just wanted to be able to say a great big ‘Thank you' to everybody who reached out."

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