Terry McCann had always been trim, fit and upbeat. A former not-for-profit
executive associate who grew up in Chicago, Illinois, Terry is renown
for his wrestling success, his philantrophy, his voluntarism and his drive
to be the best, and help others around him be their best. His wrestling
career began in 1952 when he won the Illinois High School State Wrestling
Championships. After receiving recognition for his tremendous accomplishments,
Terry went to the University of Iowa to continue wrestling. He maintained
his winning-ways and record, becoming a three-time All-American and a
two time NCAA Champion in 1955 and 1956.
While working and living in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the late 1950s, Terry trained
for the 1960 Rome Olympics. He had many sponsors who at the time were
hell-bent to make sure the Americans beat the Russians. He got up before
dawn and ran five miles. He then worked 8-10 hours a day. At night, he
wrestled. His wife, Lucille -- happily -- took care of the 5 kids at home
(with two more on the way!). Lucille all but ordered her husband to pursue
his dreams. They were married their freshman year at Iowa and had their
first child one year later. Terry wanted to quit wrestling and go to work
to support his family but Lucille insisted that he continue to pursue
his Olympics dreams. He actually made the 1956 Olympic Team but did not
go because he was in school and wanted to complete his education.
Terry McCann taking down his opponent, 1950s
He won three consecutive AAU National Championships and posted the only
undefeated international record of his time, as the only man to go undefeated
against the Russians. The road to Rome was rocky for Terry due to a knee
cartilage injury a month before competition. However, his stellar record
made the USOC committee more lenient, and he was allowed to tryout later,
but had to defeat several men consecutively to earn a spot, which he did
with ease. That was only the beginning of an amazing journey. The first
day of competition in Rome was postponed by rain, and unbeknownst to Terry,
rescheduled for the same evening. Let back at the village sleeping, Terry
woke up just in time to race to his event where he had no time to warm
up or prepare. He fought bravely, but the judge decided against him. Now,
he was faced with a much rockier road to the gold medal.
He next match was against a very skilled Russian named Chechov. Fighting
through the injury as well as an illness a week before competition, Terry
amazingly managed to win this match and other crucial matches, pinning
his opponents in shockingly short times. After his second match pin in
18 seconds, he couldn't be stopped, and received a1960 Olympic Gold
Medal for Wrestling.
Terry McCann. Olympic Gold - Rome, 1960
Returning from Rome with Olympic gold, Terry remained involved in the wrestling
community. In the 1970s, he coached several All State wrestlers, 42 Freestyle
National Champions, and five Greco Roman National Champions, none of them
for any money. Terry says that his payment for coaching was seeing each
young man win his own championship. After achieving great coaching success,
Terry co-founded the United States Wrestling Federation which later became
USA Wrestling, the governing body of wrestling across the world.
Terry is a member of the U.S. Wrestling Hall of Fame, the International
Wrestling Hall of Fame, the Amateur Wrestling Hall of Fame, and the United
States Olympics Hall of Fame.
Click here for Terry's surfing webpage.
In the mid 1970s, Terry moved his family to Southern California. He was
not in California very long before he took up surfing. Using the same
traits that made him an Olympic Gold Medalist, Terry acquired the skills
to become a great surfer. His newly found passion led him to join Surfrider
Foundation, an environmental organization focused on keeping beaches clean.
In 1993, Terry ran for a position on the Board of Directors and was elected
President of the foundation. Terry made tremendous, positive changes to
an ailing foundation and increased surfer awareness to all time highs.
Terry still surfs today as a member of the San Clemente, California Chapter
of the Surfrider Foundation. Terry was also the CFO of Lions International,
the largest service organization in the world and served as the Executive
Director of Toastmasters for 30 years.
It was on Father's Day in April 2004, that Terry has his first of several
terrible bouts of pain in his chest. He could hardly walk because the
pain was so bad. First, doctors tested him for heart attacks and aneurysms,
but found nothing. They sent him home with pain medication and after a
couple days it went away. He would be in and out of the emergency room
every two to three months from then on.
In June of 2004, Terry began to feel the same discomfort in his chest.
Several x-rays were taken at the Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, California.
The films revealed a pleural effusion. Terry underwent two thoracentesis
and each time the cells were benign. He continued to suffer chest pains
and underwent a CT scan in October and December of 2004. Each time the
scans were examined by cardiologists who were unable to pinpoint the cause
of his pain. In December, a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis was also negative.
In March of 2005, Terry underwent a third thoracentesis. Again the pathology
of the fluid was negative for any malignant process. His doctors suggested
a exploratory surgery to determine the cause of the recurrent pleural
On April 5, 2005, Terry underwent a bronchoscopy, right thoracotomy, and
pleural biopsy, as well as right talc pleurodesis. Postoperatively, Terry
developed a bronchoalveolar fistula and significant subcutaneous emphysema.
He returned to the operation room on April 7, 2005 and underwent a thoracotomy
with complete talc pleurodesis of the right lung.
On May 3, 2005, Terry met with Dr. Stuart Nagasawa, a doctor at the Hematology
and Medical Oncology department of South Orange County Hematology Oncology
Associates. Dr. Nagasawa recommended a PET scan with a CT image fusion.
In the meantime, pathologists at the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte,
California performed immunohistochemical stains on the removed tissue.
The diagnosis was malignant mesothelioma.
On June 17, Terry began chemotherapy treatments using Alimta and Cisplatin.
On July 20, Terry met with Dr. Robert Cameron at the UCLA Medical Center.
After reviewing his records, Dr. Cameron advised that a bronchoscopy and
mediastinoscopy should be performed to access the involvement and status
of his lymph nodes prior to considering any surgical therapy. If Terry
was eligible, Dr. Cameron would perform a pleurectomy and decortication.
Terry decided to keep on taking the chemotherapy.
Roger Worthington, Terry and Lucille with his 1960 Gold Medal. February, 2006
The diagnosis caught Terry by surprise. He tried to deny the shortness
of pain and breath at first. He bought a family fitness center for his
house, and even with the pain of mesothelioma, he managed to squeeze out
60 minutes working out on the exercise bike and rowing machine. Terry
believed that the exercise might help him extend his life more than the
chemotherapy. The pain he faced on a daily basis is indescribable. Terry
says that "it's a living hell," but he wouldn't be able
to get through it if it weren't for his wife, who he thinks is "a
regular Mother Teresa."
Through his bouts of fever, joint aches, and nausea, Terry valiantly struggles
on as he has done throughout his life. He has literally hundreds of friends
who love and revere him for his sincerity, good works and citizenship.
They continue to support him through his illness because they know he
is a living legend.
Terry knows that his condition is terminal, and every breath he takes is
one breath closer to his last. However, his faith in God and love of family
sustain him. He tries to keep his spirits up. Terry says that his hero
is his son, a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy stationed in Behran, which
in Terry's words is "not bad for a blond-headed surf dude from
Dana Point." Terry is proud of his family, proud of his success,
and determined to fight a disease that is a clear result of corporate
Terry was a guest speaker several times at the University of Southern California
and taught for 12 years at Santa Ana college, where he would lecture on
the social responsibility in business and ethics of business. When Terry
was CEO, the employee and consumer came first, not profit. He was shocked
to find out that executives of some businesses would knowingly sell products
proven to cause asbestosis and mesothelioma. In Terry's opinion, "it
is undeniable" that a product manufacturer has a duty to warn consumers
about knowable health hazards from the foreseeable use of their products.
Like many mesothelioma patients, Terry has trouble understanding why our
government has not prosecuted the CEOs of the asbestos companies for homicide.
"They knew it would kill, but they sold it anyway, and made money.
There's a word for that. Eventually, the bad guys will be tried by
the highest court, and they will pay."
Lucille, Terry and Roger Worthington. February, 2006
Terry and former boxer,
David "Punch" Worthington
discuss the need for research at Terry's home on January 29, 2006
More about Terry McCann
- Olympic Wrestler Succumbs to Rare Cancer
- At The End, It Was Still About Surfing
- UI Wrestling's First Olympian Dies at 72
- "They don't make them like that anymore"
- "Terry was the greatest coach I ever met."
As a Member of the Board of Directors for the Pacific Heart, Lung and Blood
Institute (www.phlbi.org), Terry McCann asks for
Donations to Help in Mesothelioma Research. (1/16/06)
Terry McCann: On the Record, Under Oath, Educating the Asbestos Company Lawyers about The Mission to Cure Mesothelioma (7/20/05)
*** ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 15, 2005 ***