Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Good news on Gwynn

Tony Gwynn "sounded good" when he spoke to his younger brother, Chris, this afternoon after the Hall of Famer had surgery to remove a malignant tumor from inside his right cheek.

"He sounded good, he really did," Chris told this blog. "It was a long night, but the outcome was pretty good."


A team of surgeons worked on Tony for 14 hours. Removing the tumor also required the removal of a nerve, but doctors grafted a nerve from Gwynn's shoulder into his cheek.

"I'm already ahead of schedule," Tony told ESPN.com this afternoon from Thornton Hospital at the University of California-San Diego, just 12 hours after surgery. "Last time, I couldn't lift my eye or close my mouth. This time, my eye can close, my mouth can close. I feel good. I'm talking better than I did last time."

Tony has attributed the cancer to his use of smokeless tobacco for his entire 20-year career with the Padres and a decade after that.

Twice during his career, ESPN.com reported, doctors found benign growths on the right side of his face, but Gwynn still kept "dipping." Then, in August 2010, a biopsy showed a malignant growth inside his mouth, and on Aug. 31, Gwynn had surgery to have most of it removed.

Removing all of the tumor would've required removing the nerve. Instead, doctors targeted the tumor's remnant with chemotherapy and radiation.

Chris said that Tony was checked for cancerous growth every week, then every month and "nothing was found." The malignancy was discovered within three months of the previous exam, Chris said.

"You're always concerned," Chris told this blog, "but I think I was more concerned the last time, because we had more of a road-map this time.

"This time," he said, "they knew cancer was there. They had all these doctors in place. They did a great job. Man, it sounds like it went really well."

Chris, who played 11 seasons in the major leagues, wasn't a user of smokeless tobacco -- to which Tony has said he became addicted.

"I never even tried it once," said Chris, who played and scouted for the Padres. "I'm just happy (Tony) is doing well."

Tony intends to resume his duties as San Diego State's baseball coach this season. The Padres are open to his return as a color analyst on their telecasts.

After talking to Tony today, Chris jokingly told Tony's wife, Alicia: "I don't know how you're going to keep him pinned down and have him sit down and not do anything."

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