Typically this time of year Chuck Funke is busy finalizing the Section VI football schedule and starting the process of assigning officials. This is not a typical year.
The Section VI football chairman finds himself in the battle of his life after being diagnosed with stomach cancer on April 12, one day after his wife's birthday.
Funke has been the face of Section VI football since taking over chairmanship from Fred Barone of Niagara-Wheatfield in 1983. Funke wore several administrative hats at Iroquois High School, including athletic director, before retiring in 2000. He stayed on as Section VI football chairman.
Funke fueled Section VI's recent success at the New York State football championships in Syracuse, which has produced a stunning eight titles the last two years.
Funke, who just turned 67, went to his doctor in April convinced he had acid reflux. The endoscopy doctor suspected that wasn't the only thing restricting food from entering his stomach. A cat scan revealed the tumor and Funke's world took a dramatic turn.
"It was not what I was expecting. I thought, 'let's get one of those stomach acid things,' " Funke said from his home on Friday night. "It was kind of a surprise, and that's understating it."
Funke has lost 40 pounds. He's eating through a feeding tube that leads into his small intestine. He's had three chemotherapy treatments and is due for a fourth July 1. A cat scan will be taken afterward and an evaluation will be made.
He's said he's constantly being asked by doctors and nurses if he's in any pain, and the answer is always the same -- no. He's asked those same medical professionals for a prognosis, but hasn't gotten an answer.
"Once you get through the first couple weeks and think about it, it's like, 'let's get to work on this thing.' That's my approach. I'm planning on getting in the saddle, kid. Honestly, I'm feeling pretty good, a lot better than I thought I would."
Funke said Chuck Amo, assistant Section VI football chairman, and Ken Stoldt, the Class B North chairman, have assumed some of his duties, but not all. Funke felt well enough last week to go into the ECIC office, and he even has gained back some weight.
"It seems something appears to be working. Now that I'm eating a little more, I gained three pounds this week -- just like a high school wrestler," he said.