Post Falls High football coach Jeff Hinz gets to coach a game Friday night.
Hinz stresses his use of the word “gets”, and with it comes a ton of perspective.
“I’m going on my 20th year of teaching and I felt like how you might get in your career and everything in life that ‘I have to go to work today, I have to do this or that,’ ” Hinz said. “After I got diagnosed (with cancer) you put things in perspective.
“I’m thankful for my family, my job and coaching and teaching. I get to teach, I get to coach.”
Hinz’s world turned upside down last November. His leg broke as he was walking around his house. Tests revealed he had lung cancer and it had spread in the form of a tumor in his left leg.
The treatment initially was an oral form of chemotherapy. That not only didn’t work but the cancer spread in one month’s time. From January to May doctors put Hinz on “the hard stuff,” 8-9 hour chemo sessions that left him puffy and eventually took away his hair.
“I took the first one and I was just dragging,” Hinz recalled. “I get to my house and there’s two Papa Murphy’s pizzas and there’s seven, eight (players) sitting on my porch waiting for me.”
Hinz relates other instances that have touched him deeply. Fundraisers, phone calls, words of encouragement, visits from staff, players and coaches past and present. Hinz said his family has been his backbone and Post Falls’ administration has been supportive.
He was buoyed after meeting a friend of a staff member who had a similar form of lung cancer that has been in remission for seven years. Coeur d’Alene’s booster club donated a “Waterboy” (water station) to Hinz, a CdA alum, and his program.
The aggressive treatments have been effective. He’s now on a maintenance program with two-hour chemo treatments.
“They scanned me in July and the cancer isn’t growing or starting in any new places,” Hinz said. “This is the most normal I’ve felt since this happened.”
Hinz’s coaching staff has stepped up to keep the program running smoothly. His biggest issue has been mobility. The slow healing process in his hip/leg makes it hard to grab something from an upstairs office or move swiftly between drills. He uses a golf cart at practice.
“At some point during double days I’ve been as tired as the kids,” a smiling Hinz said. “I’ve had some good naps between practices.”
Hinz will have another chemo treatment Friday morning, hours before the season opener. He said his players “have been great.” A core group regularly attended the summer conditioning program.
“It hurt the whole community because he’s such a good guy and he’s well known around town,” senior quarterback Dalton Thompson said. “We just want to do something we haven’t done in a long time, maybe get him a league title, maybe a state title. One of those rings for him would be nice.”