Dienhart: McCaffery news hits us all hard

I closed my eyes and said a prayer. It’s all I could think to do when I read Fran McCaffery’s statement from Iowa: “Today, we received word from doctors that the tumor that was removed during our son Patrick’s surgery on Wednesday is malignant. We will visit with doctors as soon as possible to determine Patrick’s treatment.

“Margaret and I would like to thank everyone again for the outpouring of support from across the country for our son Patrick and family this past week. We appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers.”

This news hit all of us hard. Patrick, the son of Iowa’s men’s basketball coach, just turned 14 years old. I’m the father of a 13-year-old boy. And I couldn’t fathom dealing with news that a tumor removed from his body was malignant. What would I think if I heard that news as a parent?

Why him? … How can this happen? … This isn’t fair. … Will he be OK?

[ WATCH: “The Journey” profiled McCaffery’s relationship with his family. ]

I only can imagine the thoughts running through the minds of the McCafferys. We all want answers. We all want to know what’s going to happen in our lives. The future is an exciting place, but it can also be a scary place. It’s the great unknown. No matter how much planning we do, no matter how much we think we have things in our lives in order, we don’t. What’s the saying? It’s the one we lean on when news hits us hard: “Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.”



The story of Patrick McCaffery went national this week when his father flew back to Iowa from Dayton for his son’s Wednesday morning surgery, then flew back to Dayton to lead the Hawkeyes in the NCAA tournament Wednesday night. Iowa lost 78-65 in overtime to Tennessee.

And last week the Hawkeyes players honored Patrick in advance of his surgery by wearing special shooting shirts before their game in the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament.

We don’t know what tomorrow holds. It’s all out of our hands. Our power and control is but an illusion. We really are powerless. We only can do the footwork, and then we can do the next right thing. The outcome? We have to leave that in God’s hands. And then accept it. Whatever it is.

We all pray for the best for young Patrick. His life has hardly begun. So much awaits. When we are 14, we don’t understand that. But with the passing of time comes perspective and focus. As a parent, I get it. And I’m sure many of you do, too, if you are a parent. The surface hasn’t even been scratched for Patrick.

He’s 14 years old.


News like this causes me to reflect on the gifts I’ve been given. The people in my life, the experiences I have had, the memories I’ve come to build and to cherish.

I hope Patrick beats this thing and is stronger for it. He has youth—strong, indefatigable youth–on his side. And he’ll also surely have top medical care. And he has all of us cheering him on.

And, of course, Patrick will have loving and supportive parents in Fran and Margaret, who will be by his side the whole way. Is there a more comforting feeling for a child than to know your mom and dad are right there with you for the battle?

Of course there isn’t.

Godspeed to you, Patrick. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Your Opinion?
Show Comments (11 Comments)
Al Pittman on 3/21/2014 @ 6:28pm EDT Said:

God grant that you have a full recovery Patrick.

Teri on 3/21/2014 @ 7:39pm EDT Said:


Julia Short on 3/21/2014 @ 7:56pm EDT Said:

There is no question that others haven’t already asked. Just please pass on that I will pray for Patrick and all the Mcafferys that everything will be okay. Anyone who is part of any “Big10 Nation” will be doing the same, I feel sure. If I could trade places with this 14-year-old young man, I would…

Love and Prayers from a part of “Hoosier Nation”,

Julie Short

Chaz on 3/21/2014 @ 8:35pm EDT Said:

We’re all praying for Patrick and the McCaffery family.

Patrice on 3/21/2014 @ 9:04pm EDT Said:

May the Lord bless your family with love and a healing hand…You all are in my prayers

drewzuhoskydaily on 3/21/2014 @ 9:21pm EDT Said:


Josh on 3/21/2014 @ 10:01pm EDT Said:

Big Ten Fans have been amazing! Just goes to show when push comes to shove B10 is a family in itself.

B1Gfan MI on 3/21/2014 @ 10:02pm EDT Said:

Great McCaffery family, Great Iowa family, and extended B1G family all support the McCaffery’s . Stay tough Patrick !

CoachDi on 3/21/2014 @ 11:00pm EDT Said:

As a mother of three boys and a Division 1 Head Coach, I can’t imagine the path Fran and Margaret are walking. My heart goes out to them and offer prayers to help them through this journey. When my team gets back from break,Ill share their story and we will think of Patrick and pray for his recovery.The basketball community cares. Faith.

lefty on 3/22/2014 @ 6:46am EDT Said:

Our thoughts and prayers are with you Patrick and family.

jayhowen on 3/22/2014 @ 12:22pm EDT Said: