CLEVELAND — If you would like to send Jimmy a message of support, email us at GetWellJim@wkyc.com
Jim Donovan, our longtime sports anchor here at WKYC Studios and the play-by-play voice of the Cleveland Browns, has announced that he is once again battling leukemia.
During his announcement on Wednesday's Front Row, Jimmy said that the trouble started about a year and a half ago. "I noticed something was amiss with my health," he explained. "My concerns were confirmed to me and it was told to me that I had a relapse of leukemia."
Jimmy said that during the last year and a half, he has been receiving treatment using various forms of chemotherapy, both intravenous and oral. "For the most part, they worked pretty well, but things change, and so we're going to have to go with a different treatment plan — a more aggressive treatment plan, which has already started," he added.
As for what's to come?
"This is going to be kind of a long and winding road through this treatment plan, because it is going to be aggressive. The goal is: gotta get better, gotta get healthy, gotta move on. I know the deal, I've done it before, and I plan to do it once again," Jimmy explained. "Through all of this, I will be here at Channel 3 and on the radio as much as I can be, but there will be periods of time that I might not be with you, maybe for a day, maybe for longer."
WKYC President and General Manager Micki Byrnes released the following statement:
"Jim Donovan is a Cleveland broadcasting legend, whose name has become synonymous with the Northeast Ohio sports scene. Just as Jim handles his daily reporting and analysis with smarts, grit and strength — we know that Jim will bring that same tenacity and spirit to this health battle. We appreciate that the viewers and community stand in solidarity with our WKYC team in supporting Jim and his family, just as they always have for the past 38+ years."
After being diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in 2000, Jimmy began a decade-long battle with the disease that ultimately resulted in a bone-marrow transplant in the summer of 2011. His donor was a Virginia corrections officer named Dallas Gentry, who was a perfect 10-point match to Jimmy.
Just three months after his transplant, Jimmy returned to the Browns broadcast booth. It wasn't an easy road back. In addition to battling fevers, there was a diagnosis of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, on Jimmy's earlobe. Doctors performed surgery to remove the mole.
Since then, he has been closely monitoring his condition.
And he is not alone. Jimmy took a few moments during his announcement to mention his family, as well as his caregivers at University Hospitals.
"I have an incredible family. My wife Cheryl is my No. 1 go-to person, my advocate. And my daughter Meghan is amazing," he said. "We were knocked for a little bit of a loop when we got the news about this, but we've steadied ourselves and we're ready to go once again."
Jimmy says he has "total confidence" in the medical professionals who are handling his case at UH Seidman Cancer Center. "They have done an amazing job for many, many years treating me and I am ready to put my case in their hands again."
A graduate of Boston University, Jimmy first arrived at WKYC in 1985. In addition to his work here in Cleveland, Jimmy called NFL games on NBC for 11 seasons and also handled play-by-play for several events during the network's coverage of the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics.
In 1999, Jimmy was named as the radio "Voice of the Cleveland Browns." As he begins his 25th season behind the microphone this fall, consider this: Since 1999, the Browns have had 10 full-time head coaches, dozens and dozens of starting quarterbacks, but only one voice.
"Our thoughts and the thoughts of the entire organization are with Jim and his family right now in this difficult time," Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam wrote in a statement following the announcement on Wednesday. "There is no better representative of the Cleveland Browns. He is as tough as they come and proved as much in his previous battle. We're all behind Jim and will do everything we can to support him. We look forward to him winning this fight, being around the team, and continuing to call our games during the season."
Jimmy closed his announcement with a message for the fans of Cleveland.
"Know this: I have always had you in my thoughts. And I adore being with you as we go through the ups and sometimes the downs of Cleveland sports. So you are in my thoughts and you are a goal for me to be back with you, here at Channel 3 and down at the stadium calling the Browns up in that radio booth. And I'll be there when I can or as much as I can. Right now, duty calls. And the duty is I have to get better. I think everything right now is pointing in a positive way."
And we can't wait to watch and listen to you, Jimmy!
If you would like to send Jimmy a message of support, email us at GetWellJim@wkyc.com