Hall-of-Fame tight end Charlie Sanders has undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy in his battle with cancer, but family members say the long-time Detroit Lion is staying upbeat in his fight, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.
“Just as on the field, Charlie Sanders is a fighter and he is going to fight to the end like any game, like any journey,” Sanders’ daughter, Charese Sailor, said on behalf of the family. “We are rallying around him and supporting him in that fight, and until God says differently, we’re going to push on.”
Doctors diagnosed Sanders with cancer last November after they found a malignant tumor behind his right knee while he was being prepped for knee replacement surgery.
Sanders, who’s remained mostly hospitalized and out of the public eye in recent months, said in February that “the knee operation saved my life.”
One of the most prolific pass-catchers of his era, Sanders played 10 seasons for the Lions (1968-77) and finished his career with 336 catches for 4,817 yards.
A seven-time Pro Bowler, he suffered a serious knee injury in a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons in 1976 that forced him to retire a little more than a year later.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007, and Lions players and other area luminaries showed up in droves to support his foundation’s annual charity golf outing last month.
Former Pistons star and ex-Detroit mayor Dave Bing, one of Sanders’ close friends, said at that time that Sanders was in good spirits.
“One thing that I really do want people to know is that he feels all the prayers and all the love and he knows that there are so many people really giving back to him what he gave,” Sailor said. “So in this critical time we are just rallying with him and it’s so difficult to get to everyone, but he would like everyone to know that he really feels and appreciates their prayer.”