Former Dodge County coach battling cancer with faith, family, and football

#tailgate13: Battling cancer: Family, faith, and football

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and while one former Dodge County coach isn't fighting breast cancer, he's in the fight of his life.

Coach John Peacock is using faith, family, and football in a time he needs it most.

On February 6, the Peacock family's lives changed.

It's a battle on the field for 60 minutes every Friday night, but for Coach Peacock, his battle comes home with him.

"Told me I had Stage 4 cancer in the pancreas and liver. My liver was completely black," said Peacock.

Even though he's on his couch now, some days, the coach says it feels like he's in the trenches.

"You feel like your feet have been knocked out from under you."

Coach Peacock coached at Dodge County for ten seasons. He's won more than 180 games in his career, including big playoff matchups. Still, he hopes his biggest victory is yet to come.

It's a fight with cancer, but he's not fighting alone.

"It's been harder on my wife than, probably, on me," said Peacock.

He has his wife, Sue, his family, and a little help from the man upstairs.

"When you get in a bad situation, you pray, and if you can pray, God will answer." 

So for now, he waits at his home in Eastman where the community he's grown to love offers their support.

"I get cards and I think, 'Gosh, I didn't think they liked me. People have been so good for us," said Peacock.

And whether it's a card, a prayer, or just a 'Hello,' the people in Dodge County are helping him fight.

Peacock said, "Some come in, spend hours with us, then apologize. Don't apologize! You kept my mind off cancer for a couple hours!"

They're a couple of hours with no worries, just like on Friday nights, but this time, it's at his second home.

"I sit under the sign after every football game," Peacock said of a sign dedicated to him.

In 2011, Dodge County made it official -- Memorial Stadium will be forever known as Coach John Peacock Field.

"They called and said, 'Coach, we named the field after you,' and I said, 'WHAT?' Peacock exclaimed. "It's good to something named after you while you are still alive."

He is alive and in good spirits -- 140 pounds lighter than he was just a year and a half ago.

He can wear his high school jacket again.

While the jacket is a new look for him at his age, he still has the same old love for football.

Peacock said, "It teaches you a value of life, and I don't want to forget that."

He hopes he can pass his memories and values on to generations.

"You got to give every day you can't quit. We try to put life lessons into football. If you get knocked down, you can't stay down in football. You better get up."

Coach practices what he preaches -- he's not quitting anytime soon. "God decided I was gonna stay for a little while. I figure I got something left to do."

But what's left for a man who's accomplished so much? 

"I'm not a legacy, I'm only what those kids did for me and those assistant coaches. I just steered the ship," said Coach Peacock.

With humbleness, faithfulness, and gratefulness, Coach Peacock is just happy to be where he is.

"I wouldn't trade it for nothing in the world. I would have did it again," he said.

Judging by the love Coach gets, his fans wouldn't change a thing.

Coach says Sue, his wife of 44 years, along with his two daughters and seven grandchildren, keep him going, and are there for him every step of his battle.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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