On Thursday, Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott said defensive lineman Kyle Peko was the only player not in attendance as the team opened training camp, but that Peko’s absence was excused.
On Thursday night, Peko revealed the heartbreaking reason.
Stage 3 Hodgkin lymphoma
On Instagram, Peko posted a photo of himself with his wife, Giuliana, and their two young children, ages 4 and nearly 4 months.
Underneath, he wrote:
“Another tough good bye today...leaving home is never easy and leaving you guys here is even harder but this time around has taken its toll I think on all of us! I sit here at the airport reflecting on the last month and a half and my time with my wife and my kids and my family I’m just so grateful for every moment. My wife especially...
“Some may know and some may not but my wife was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma about a month ago.
“1st I would ask all of you to please pray for her and our family and send just positive vibes our way!
“2nd to my fighter I hate to leave you during this time but we are faith driven and what is presented with us and what is is set ahead is all apart of his PERFECT PLAN! You are a strong, intelligent and beautiful girl who I’m lucky [is] mine. The examples you set day in and day out for our kids and even for me are unmatched!
“You are the rock of this family and the strongest person I know so what you are BATTLING stands no chance. Stick with the plan trust in the Drs. And have faith that God is with you in your journey ahead along with all of us! You are so loved and so respected you have so many people in your corner and that just speaks volumes to the kind of person You are and the kind person I strive to be!
“I love you babe forever no matter what!!!! We promised! As long as I go up to NY and kick ass you’ll be here kicking ass! So I hold you to it.”
The couple has been married since December 2014.
‘I have cancer? That can’t be right’
Giuliana Peko has started a blog detailing her cancer fight. In the first entry, she lists several dates over the past couple of months, from an initial appointment with her primary care physician to the day she was told she has Hodgkin lymphoma (June 28) to having a port placed for chemo treatments.
“What started with a little lump on neck, soon turned into something I thought I would never have to deal with in this lifetime,” she wrote. “As I sit here writing this blog, it still doesn’t feel real to me. I have cancer? That can’t be right.
“How can I, a 24 year old, a mother of two babies, have stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma? There are endless amount of questions that have been replaying in my head since the moment I found out.”
She will undergo chemotherapy twice a month for six months.
‘The challenge is a significant one’
On Friday, once Kyle Peko has shared his family’s news, McDermott addressed his situation again, in greater detail.
“I want to say how appreciative I am of Kyle Peko coming to camp,” he said. “We’re all human and we go through challenges, but the challenge that Kyle and his family are facing is certainly a significant one.
“We’ll let his family know that we are with them all they way and we will continue to pray and support them any way we can.”
Undrafted out of Oregon State in 2016, Peko spent the first two-plus season of his career with the Denver Broncos, where he got to be teammates with his cousin, Domata Peko.
Kyle Peko bounced between the practice squad and 53-man roster with Denver, playing in seven total games, six of them in 2017. He was released by the Broncos last Sept. 11 but signed by the Bills to their practice squad the next day.
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