GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - Jeff Charles, the radio play-by-play voice of ECU, is still on the mend from surviving cancer, but he'll be back in full swing for the upcoming football season.
Charles, who is in his 26th year as the radio announcer for the Pirates, was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in December.
Charles went to the hospital for stomach pains on December 3, 2012. In the two weeks following, he had three surgeries but that was only the beginning of his battle.
In January, 2013, he started six months of chemotherapy. Charles said he had 51 hours of chemo every 2 weeks. That's 612 hours of chemotherapy in total. He finished his chemotherapy in July.
"I never went through a 'why me?' situation. I was like 'ok these are the cards I've been dealt and I need to attack this situation now 24/7," he said.
During his treatment, Charles worked when he could voicing some of the home games of basketball and baseball.
"I was very fortunate that I handled it well. I didn't lose my hair. I didn't really lose much weight," he said.
Charles credits this to the healthy lifestyle he had before he got sick, including benching over 300 pounds and running 12-15 miles a week.
"I'm cancer free. And so I'm really thinking this is in my rearview mirror and I'm going to make a full recovery," he said.
Charles said he's working to return to his normal schedule at Pirate Radio in September or October. He hopes to one day get back to his full daily routine but he's taking it one day at a time.
"I'm not the average dog and I want to get back to work," Charles said.
His radio gig isn't just sitting behind a microphone like some people may think. He's constantly out interviewing coaches and players for all the sports year round.
"So much of this it is mind over matter. And you have to be mentally tough when you go through something like this," Charles said.
He didn't do his recovery alone. Besides his immediate family helping his get through the tough times, he had the 12th man helping him—Pirate Nation.
"My goodness, I've gotten hundreds of cards and emails, texts and letters from the pirate nation and they've been absolutely terrific. And I've read each one of them. I can assure everyone I've read them. I'm trying to get back to everyone," he said.
ECU will play Old Dominion for their season opener on Saturday. It's the Pirates first game ever against the Monarchs. Charles said while ODU is a tough team, as they were 11 and 2 last year, he expects it to be a good game.