Coach is up against the clock
- steve brandon
- Portland Tribune - Sports
One of the top basketball coaches in Portland prep history needs a big assist, as soon as possible. He's up against a formidable opponent, it's the fourth quarter - and he's out of timeouts.
Dick Beachell, 70, who coached high school boys basketball for 24 years and at three PIL schools, has been battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma since December 2004. An oral drug is keeping the cancer under control for now, but the medicine could stop being effective at any time.
What he needs is a stem-cell transplant - and against long odds, a compatible donor has been found.
'It's the only thing that could cure him right now,' says Dr. Elliot Epner, of the Oregon Health and Science University Cancer Institute, where Beachell is being treated.
The procedure would cost about $250,000, and Medicare doesn't cover it.
Beachell needs to raise the money, and fast. 'We've got a few months,' he says.
'The sooner the better," Epner says.
The Dick Beachell Stem-Cell Transplant Fund has just been established at U.S. Bank. Donations can be made at any branch.
After a national and then an international search, a potential donor was recently located.
'To my knowledge, she's in Europe,' Beachell says. 'There are 8 1/2 million people on the list of donors, most of them in Europe. They only found four possible matches for me, and then scratched two of them after more testing. This lady still has to go through seven or eight more tests. If she flunks, or I do, it wouldn't be a match.
'But if it is, they'd freeze her cells, ship them here and put them in me.'
Epner says 60 percent to 70 percent of cases like Beachell's 'can be cured with this type of transplant. We do 100 to 150 transplants a year, and for this disease we've done quite a few.'
Beachell coached at Jefferson from 1967 to 1973 and was an assistant to Jack Bertell when the Democrats won the state championship in '72.
Beachell coached at Jackson from 1973 to 1982, then spent the next nine years at Wilson, the last seven as head coach, succeeding George Crandall.
The Trojans won five PIL championships in those seven years, along with state titles in '85, '89 and '91. They were fifth in state in '86, second in '88 (to Terrell Brandon and Grant) and third in '90.
In six state playoff runs, the Trojans were a combined 21-3. Damon Stoudamire, Keith Smith, Charles and Aaron McKinney, Pat Strickland, and Duray Thirdgill were among the many Wilson stars of that era.
Beachell retired from teaching in 1996. The last couple of years have been a challenge.
'I've received probably every treatment they have, and a lot of radiation,' he says. 'I had three tumors, one pushing out my eyeball.'
The fund is earmarked solely for Beachell.
'If I don't use the money,' he says, 'or something happens that I can't use it, I'll make sure it gets returned.'