The Washington Football Team clarified Ron Rivera’s cancer diagnosis, saying he has squamous cell cancer of the neck. It is a form of skin cancer but considered “very treatable and curable,” Rivera told Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Squamous cell cancer usually is not life-threatening but can spread if left untreated, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Rivera told his players of his diagnosis Thursday night, but he plans to continue coaching.
“I’m planning to go on coaching,” he told Schefter. “Doctors encouraged me to do it, too. They said, ‘If you feel strongly, do it. Don’t slow down, do your physical activities.’ But everyone keeps telling me by week three or four, you’ll start feeling it.”
Rivera, 58, found a lump on his neck in early July and was told of the cancer two weeks ago. An outside specialist is helping establish a treatment plan.
“I was stunned,” Rivera said. “But I was angry because I feel like I’m in the best health I’ve been in.”
Players were stunned, too.
“A bunch came up and wished me well,” Rivera said. “I said, ‘I’m going to be a little more cranky, so don’t piss me off.’”
Washington does have a Plan B in place just in case Rivera has to miss time. Rivera wasn’t ready to reveal details, but defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio twice has served as a head coach.