Iowa State’s Jamie Pollard shares his cancer journey

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AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University Athletics Director Jamie Pollard likes to run — usually on a treadmill to keep in shape. Recently he was running, and something did not feel right, he had a pain in his groin area.

He found a lump on his right testicle after doing a self-exam. He had an ultra-sound and a doctor determined he would need surgery to remove the testicle. Pollard found out right before Thanksgiving that the testicle was positive for cancer. He got the news while riding in the car with his son James, who is a five-time cancer survivor.

“I got the call from the doctor which I figured was probably not good news he was calling me that soon so James got to hear it over the speaker phone in the car which was its own set of weird dynamic,” said Pollard. “He had cancer five times so he’s heard that call many times for himself, it’s the first time he’s heard it for somebody else let alone his Dad.”

Pollard had open-heart surgery in 2015, which he also shared publicly, and was a source of encouragement to people who reached out to Jamie. Now, he’s sharing about cancer.

“I had several people that are very important to me that said it’s a little bit of men’s ministry that men aren’t very good about talking about these type of issues,” said Pollard. “You have a platform as athletics director, to spread the word that early detection is key, so the type of cancer I have is 95% success rate if you detected early.”

Pollard said his family Christmas will be different this year, not due to cancer, but because his kids are getting older and all have jobs, or somewhere else they need to be. Pollard credits his wife Ellen for keeping the family and job in balance.

“It is so exciting energizing, and uplifting to see your fans back in full force because that previous year and a half during Covid was just was challenging for all of us,” said Pollard. “What was probably the most challenging was the lack of social interaction and Cyclone sports whether it was for football this fall with it sold out stadium record attendance, and now basketball with what TJ has done what coach Fennelly has always done, it’s just really neat to see Cyclone fans gather en-mass.”

Pollard realizes the depth of support of the Cyclone fan base.

“Our fans our have supported us, that’s allowed us to continue to push the envelope and build facilities, and retain great coaches, recruit wonderful student-athletes,” said Pollard. “There’s still a lot to be accomplished, there’s still quite a few firsts to be had, and will keep trying to push the boulder up the hill.” 

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