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VIRG FOSS: Olympics, a time for miracles

It’s time again for the fantastic spectacle of the Winter Olympics, one of my favorite events.

It’s also 34 years removed from the remarkable story of the underdog Miracle on Ice gold-medal victory of the 1980 U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team.

I believe in miracles, not just in sports.

One of my best friends in Grand Forks had a cancerous tumor removed from his kidney not long ago. The tumor broke as the doctor took it out. Denny has lived in fear that the broken tumor might have spread cancer through his body.

This week he went in for tests to determine his present health.

He’s fearful no more. After viewing the test results, his doctor told him there is not a trace of cancer.

Yes, I believe in miracles. The blanket of fear hanging over my friend has been lifted. He can live life again. A miracle, yes indeed.

I’m praying for more miracles.

My high school sweetheart lives on her remote mountain ranch in western Montana. She lives there alone with her horses, dogs, chickens, flowers and fruit-bearing trees, surrounded by unbelievable beauty.

In recent years, we’ve become close friends again, separated by 1,100 miles, yes, but linked by late-night phone calls, occasional visits and a bond forged 50-some years ago.

She is a 25-year survivor of breast cancer. She has lived life to the fullest in the great outdoors of the rugged land she calls home.

I’m praying for a miracle for Gail. Recently, she learned her cancer has returned, and it’s not good. She’s battling with chemo treatments. We live with optimism and hope.

Yes, I believe in miracles. Gail needs one now.

The captain of my college football team is a friend of mine since boyhood. He, too, is battling cancer from his home in Rochester, Minn., dealing with both chemo and radiation treatments in recent months.

Tom, a tough old linebacker from his football days, is a battler. “I’ve always played to win,” he says. “No different now.”

In his case, if you’re going to fight a life-threatening illness, living in Rochester with its outstanding medical services boost the chances for a miracle.

Having three great friends dealing with serious medical problems at the same time has weighed heavily on me of late.

So having the Winter Olympics back is a welcomed diversion from this path of worry I’ve been traveling.

Closer to home, it’s like the start of the Indy 500 for the UND hockey team. The race to determine the first champion of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference comes down the stretch with 10 games to go.

The race heats up, with five teams bunched within three points of first place heading into this weekend. Gentlemen, start your engines.

UND women’s basketball certainly deserves the spotlight, on a pace to win a Big Sky Conference championship and perhaps qualify for the NCAA Division I tournament. That would be special.

It won’t take a miracle for either of those teams to win a championship and go on to the national tournament.

So if I add those two teams to watching the Winter Olympics as events to follow, sporting distractions could not come at a better time when the cloud of cancer descended on dear friends.

Virg Foss reported on sports for the Grand Forks Herald for 36 years until his retirement. He writes a column exclusively for the Herald from October through April. Contact him at or (701) 772-9272.