Trevecca is a place Todd Welch has called his home for the past 34 years. During that time, the longest tenured men’s basketball team manager has survived cancer—twice.
Both times Welch maintained full duties as the men’s basketball team manager.
Not only does Welch recall being at most every game, but the 50-year-old was disappointed when he was unable attend.
As he reflects on having to fight cancer twice, he said he relied heavily on his Trevecca family during those times.
“The Trevecca family gave me hope during my time with cancer,” Welch said. “I knew I always had someone there who was praying for me.”
Welch’s cancer journey started 17 years ago on Dec. 2, 2000.
“I woke up and struggled to get out bed,” Welch said. “I had no clue what was going on with my body.”
Welch spent the next week traveling to get several different opinions, before being told he needed to have testicular surgery.
After successful surgery on Dec. 8, Welch returned to the doctor’s office where he received even more difficult news.
“I had surgery and went back a week later to have my lymph nodes removed,” Welch said. “That surgery determined I needed to have chemotherapy.”
Welch recalls chemotherapy as one of the most painful things he’s experienced, but none more heartbreaking than the inability to have children.
“The hardest part (of my cancer) was my wife and I both wanting kids,” Welch said. “In the end, it was something that just wasn’t meant to be. We still love each other.”
Instead, the Welch’s take pride in their dog, Noel.
“She doesn’t take away the fact we can’t have kids, but sometimes God wants different things than we do,” Welch said.
Welch has served as the men’s basketball team manager since 1983, a role he began even before he attended school at Trevecca.
“I grew up in Nashville, pretty much on this Hill,” Welch explained. “I started coming to basketball games when I was young and helped assist the basketball team in high school.”
Welch spent a year away from Trevecca in the early 90s working for a minor league basketball team, before ultimately deciding to stay on the Hill.
“God told me I needed to stay at Trevecca,” Welch said. “It was as simple as that.”
Welch was hired as a full-time employee at Trevecca in 1993.
“Trevecca is like a second home to me,” Welch said. “I started working and haven’t left.”
In 1999, he met his wife at Trevecca. Rebecca and Todd started dating in 2000, before the couple tied the knot on June 2, 2001.
Head men’s basketball coach, Sam Harris, has had Welch as his team manager since he began coaching at Trevecca in 1992 and has helped Welch through his experience with cancer.
“More than anything we were just there for him,” Harris explained. “We’ve been supportive of him throughout both instances of cancer.”
Harris is entering his 25th season as Trojans head basketball coach and says having Welch on his bench is important— now more than ever.
“It helped us put everything into perspective,” Harris said. “Winning and losing are important to us, but there are much more important things in life than basketball, which was shown to us through Todd.”
According to Harris, having a team manager as tenured as Welch is uncommon, but he stresses the importance of Welch’s commitment to the team.
“Todd’s role has changed over the course of time,” Harris said. “Technology and life have changed exactly what he does for us, but he’s still a big part of our program.”
A decade after being cancer-free, Welch visited his doctor in November 2011 where he received more tough news.
“My doctor told me my thyroid was swollen,” Welch said. “I didn’t know what that meant at the time. I was having trouble swallowing, so he sent me to an endocrinologist.”
On Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011, Welch was sent in for testing on his thyroid and later that day would find out three spots in his thyroid came back positive for cancer.
“I’ve had days where I’ve questioned God,” Welch said. “Why me, why now, why this? I always trusted God was going to take care of me.”
Over a month later Welch had surgery to remove his thyroid.
“I remember feeling sore and not being able to turn my neck a lot,” Welch said. “I was told to take it slow and I’d fully recover.”
For a week after his surgery, Welch was forced into isolation. He was unable to be within eight to 10 feet of anybody.
“It was one of the worst weeks of my life,” Welch said. “Not being able to do the basic things for myself.”
Welch later had a full body scan to find out the results of his surgery. Welch recalls how the 11 p.m. phone call with his doctor went.
“The doctor said I’m all clear and I was like, ‘Wow, great!’” Welch explained. “I tried to go outside and yell, but nothing would come out.”
Although surviving cancer has been the most difficult thing Welch has ever been faced with, he was encouraged by the support he received.
“It was hard, but I knew I had God on my side,” Welch said. “I knew he would take care of me. I knew I had people around me that loved me.”
Welch says the support from his Trevecca family made his entire battle with cancer easier.
“I am just so grateful for all those people at Trevecca who prayed for me,” Welch said. “There have been so many people that have been there for me. It’s been so amazing to see how God works, and I believe he’s still working.”
Now that the 50-year-old has survived cancer, he is taking active steps in helping others defeat their battles.
Welch has raised $2,300 to donate to Making Strides Against Cancer foundation, which he plans to donate at the end of 2017.
“You never think about people who have been affected by cancer, but my fundraising is for such a good cause,” Welch said. “It’s amazing to see how the effects of cancer have touched people. For people to want to donate so others can live is amazing.”