STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - Shawn Forrest’s life has changed a good bit in the last few months, and only a little of it has to do with basketball.
It started one day in the fall of 2019.
“November 4,” he remembers. Forrest won’t forget that day anytime soon.
It’s when his doctor told him he had prostate cancer.
“Once you hear the word cancer, the first thing you think about is the fear of dying,” said Forrest.
But first, back up about a month.
The only reason Forrest and his doctors found out he had cancer? A chance suggestion from his wife, who knew it had been a while since her husband had gotten checked out.
“I said you should go to the doctor, and he was like you’re right,” said Renea Forrest.
Based on his symptoms, Forrest and his doctors believe he’d had cancer since April 2018- 19 months before it was discovered.
Forrest estimates he hadn’t had a physical in six or seven years. Basketball had taken most of that time. But in November, he wasn’t a coach. He had just left a job with SMU that summer.
“If I had still been working and doing some things, I wouldn’t have went to the doctor," Forrest admits. "It was just one of those situations. God just knew it was time.”
Forrest had successful surgery to remove the cancer. According to his doctor, that was just in time too.
“The cancer was growing toward my bladder," Forrest explains. "He said six or seven more months, and he didn’t know if would’ve been able to help me.”
Forrest got the good news he had been hoping for on March 25, he was cancer free. But that wasn’t the end of the good news his family would receive that week.
Two days later, he got a call from coaching colleague and friend Brian Burg.
“I just told him I was cancer free," Forrest recalls. "He told me I’ve got some news too. I just got the job at Georgia Southern.”
Burg was announced as Georgia Southern’s new head men’s basketball coach on March 29. He says it didn’t take long to offer Forrest a spot on his staff and get him back in the game.
“If I ever had the opportunity to get a head coaching job, I knew one: it’d be a dream come true for myself," Burg says. “And two, I was going to try to find a way to get Shawn Forrest on my staff.”
Forrest says he’s humbled and grateful for the opportunity in Statesboro. He says after winning a victory for his life, that’s the way he’s going to stay.
“As coaches sometimes, we’re always looking to get to the highest level or next level," Forrest says. “But I’m just grateful for the opportunities now.”
Forrest says he hopes his story encourages all men over 40 to get checked for prostate cancer. He’ll be on the bench this fall when the Eagles tip off the 2020-21 season.