Cancer shakes Colorado State family

When the cancer diagnosis came, Marianne Stroud took stock of her life. Then she took action.

Stroud started throwing everything out of her house. Boxes of Christmas decorations. Boxes of clothes, shoes, so many things she did not need. Furniture went on consignment. The giant house went on sale, and they moved into a town home. She and her husband, Colorado State defensive line coach Todd Stroud, downsized in a big way.

Marianne, at age 45, had to face a stark reality. She was not living the way she wanted. Reorganizing– her home, her life, her focus, her priorities – was about the only thing she could control while she fought thyroid cancer this summer.

“That was how I dealt with cancer, and it was like a positive, it was very positive,” Marianne Stroud said in a recent phone interview. “I thought, ‘OK, I can't be guaranteed how much time I'll have left, but by gosh it's going to be lived the way I want to live it and I’m going to be proud of it.

“Instead of waiting until we retired, I wanted to start living the life we dreamed out. Our daughter said our house got radiated. But I just said, ‘We're doing it now.’”

Marianne underwent radiation this summer to treat the cancer, and had her thyroid removed. She spent a week in the hospital and was quarantined for an entire month. That meant Todd and their three grown daughters had to watch for their youngest son, Stone, 5. Todd had to juggle his duties with Colorado State, as well, but he also had a chance to re-evaluate his priorities.

“The little fella there who was obviously clueless as to what was going on, he was the glue that held everything together,” Todd Stroud said. “Everyone rallied around the little guy, and it made us stronger I think as Marianne was going through this. We all put our heads down and pitched in and spent the time together. …

“At the end of the day, as we're going through this profession, you put so much emphasis every week on your job and winning games, it's very easy as a coach to lose focus. This refocuses your energy on what's important. It is important for family to be taken care of first. At the same time, my role as mentor of young men is not just about winning games. It's about helping them grow and sharing your experiences as well.”

The cancer in her thyroid is gone, but Marianne is at high risk for developing cancer again. She needs to go for blood work every six months, and mammograms every six months as well. Colorado State raised cancer awareness last Saturday for its game against Boise State. On “White Out Cancer Day,” the Rams wore all white uniforms at home for the first time in 55 years, and 5,000 white T-shirts were distributed.

Though Marianne still is going through some of the side effects of taking the radiation, she has been able to stay incredibly positive and upbeat. She got that from her husband, who has been a strong leader for so many young men.

“Just leading by example all those years made it easy to emulate him,” she said. “He's always been so strong, so it was easy to physically copy in a way. But there were a few moments that privately that it was crushing for me. Having daughters who are college age, it's an important to be a strong woman, and not to be beaten by things. Even if it went bad, I told myself I would not be weak in front of them, that I would always put on a good face and be strong and have dignity.”