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Air Force assistant coach Drew Long absent from team as he battles cancer

Jan 21, 2014, 6:28 PM EDT

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Air Force assistant men’s basketball coach Drew Long has been battling rectal cancer, and has been away from the program since Thanksgiving to receive treatment. A native of Houston, Long has been there with his wife and their three daughters, along with his parents who still make their home there.

Long is currently in the stages of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Head coach Drew Pilipovich said, “”He’s doing well. High spirit, high energy. We think about him often, talk to him daily and text him. He texts the guys and checks in on us.”

Brent Briggeman of The Gazette, explained that Long has had a history of stomach issues, dating back to his days as a student at Northwestern:

Long has a history of stomach issues and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease while in college at Northwestern. He began losing energy this past spring, the result of losing blood. He chalked it up to the same problems that had plagued him in the past.

Pilipovich has put Long’s situation and continual fight with cancer in perspective: “You know that blockout we missed on Saturday? It doesn’t mean that much…When you think about it, this is the most important thing – getting him healthy and being there for his wife and kids and living a long life.”