Gary Dolphin

Gary Dolphin

Contributed photo

From Warren Holloway's game-winning touchdown catch in the 2005 Capital One Bowl to improbable wins in Big Ten basketball tournament title games, Gary Dolphin has made many memorable calls in 16 years as the radio play-by-play voice of the Hawkeyes.

He told the group at Monday's Davenport Grid Club luncheon that the best call he ever made was one he placed to a doctor earlier this year.

"I called and went in for a routine check-up that changed my life," Dolphin said.

The 60-year old announced last month that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Within the next week, Dolphin begins a series of 42 radiation treatments at the Wendt Regional Cancer Center at Finley Hospital in Dubuque, Iowa, under the care of Dr. Thomas Lally, a Clinton, Iowa, native who Dolphin has known for years.

"I'm in good hands and it is good to know that others are thinking of you. I've been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and kind words that people have shown me over the last few weeks," Dolphin said.

Dolphin said he expected to receive a couple dozen notes from listeners and acquaintances after he announced that he would be undergoing treatment.

Instead, he received over 300 notes, emails, calls and text messages in the first 24 hours alone. Cards and letters followed.

"I've gained a new appreciation for just how much of a reach our broadcasts have," Dolphin said. "I've heard from people from California, Georgia, even from a man who grew up in Iowa but lives in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and listens every week to the late-night replay of the football broadcasts on WHO radio."

He said the support and thoughts provide him with strength, quickly adding, "What I'm going through pales in comparison to what other people find themselves dealing with."

Dolphin doesn't have to look any further than the chair next to him in the Iowa broadcast booth to illustrate his point.

Former Hawkeye and long-time Iowa radio analyst Ed Podolak has underwent 12 surgeries since being struck by an automobile as he walked across a street in Scottsdale, Ariz., earlier this summer.

"He's had a dozen major surgeries and still has a big old rod in one leg that I think he is looking forward to getting rid of in a week or so," Dolphin said. "He's the guy who has had the tough fight. Me, I'll be fine."

Dolphin said doctors caught his cancer early and believe his upcoming treatment will take care of the issue. He plans to maintain his weekly work schedule at his full-time employer, U.S. Bank, and with Learfield Sports' Hawkeye Radio Network.

"I'm a little fatigued at times right now, but some of that may just be the season," Dolphin said. "The plan is to fulfill all of my obligations and hopefully sometime around Thanksgiving this will all be in the rearview mirror."

Dolphin is thankful that the situation was diagnosed when it was.

He has had regular medical check-ups for years because of a family history of heart problems. His father died at the age of 36. His grandfather died at 48.

Blood tests have been a part of those check-ups and two years ago, his doctor told him that his prostate-specific antigen test was askew. The situation has been monitored since, and his score doubled when a PSA test was taken on May 24.

He had been treated previously with antibiotics but with the sudden increase, he opted for a biopsy. Thirty percent of the 12 samples were found to be cancerous, and all were contained to the lower area of the prostate.

Surgery was an option, but included a longer recovery period.

For the last month, Dolphin has taken 17 pills a day to shrink the prostate and weaken the tumor to prepare his body for the start of radiation treatments.

Dolphin believes those treatments, taking 20-to-25 minutes a day Monday through Friday, will offer fewer side effects and be the least disruptive while allowing him to maintain a fairly normal work schedule.

"I'll get through it. I just hope if others know and understand the value of that simple and quick blood test, it may help them, too," Dolphin said.