For years Lexington Christian Academy coach Paul Rains has prepared his team for battle on the football field. But nothing could prepare him for Cancer.
"You don't know what to feel," Rains said. "You know, you're shocked."
His wife, Denise, is battling for her life, with breast cancer.
"We definitely felt like we were blind sided. It's been a two week whirlwind, I was just diagnosed on September the first," Denise Rains said.
"You don't know what it is," said Coach Rains. "You know you're up against a monster, but you don't know how big it is. What is it that we're fighting here."
The Eagles will take the field each week, the same as they have for the last seven years under Coach Rains. But this past Friday night was different. This was LCA's first game since Denise's .
"I don't care who your family is, or what your occupation is. There is never a good time to find out you have cancer inside your family. You just deal with it and football is just a game and, if anything, it gives us a big slap of reality of what really is important," said Coach Rains.
Rains has experience dealing with the heartbreak of a loss on the football field. Two years ago his Eagles were just yards from the state title, but on a fourth down play, LCA was intercepted on the goal line. The Eagles fell to Beechwood. Then last year the Eagles' hopes of reaching the state title ended on a cold winter's night in Hazard.. 2009 is expected to be the season where everything will come together for Rains and his Eagles. It is set to be a special season for the Eagles. The Rains' son Austin is in uniform this year as a sophomore. But the news of Denise's illness quickly put football into perspective.
"Paul's done well," Denise says. "He broke down in front of me the day before the surgery."
"The greatest thing I've seen out of this is her spirit," says Coach Rains
As anyone around the team and family would expect, the LCA family has rallied behind the Rains family on and off of the football field.
"I want to be at the games to support the players and the team. I don't want to be a distraction this season, because we do have high expectations for this group and I don't want my cancer detracting from that," said Denise.
The Rains admit they are a pretty resilient group. So as Denise prepares for her battle, Paul continues to prepare for his. But they both are preparing as a team, as a family, as a football family.