ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- For 33 years, Pete van Wieren's job could be summed up in four words that the broadcasting legend still says today: never give up hope.
"I think back to all those years when the Braves were finishing in last place," van Wieren recalls. "People would look at you and say, 'How could you work for a team like that?'"
But he didn't just work for the Braves; he was the voice of them. Along with Skip Caray and Ernie Johnson, Pete van Wieren formed the third leg of the broadcast team for "America's Team."
And when things did turn around for the Braves, Pete's hope - and Atlanta's hope - paid off in a big way.
These days, Pete is four years into retirement, and the mantra, never give up hope, has taken on a whole new meaning.
"The plan was to take it easy and enjoy life, that was basically it," van Wieren said. "And then almost a year to the day after I retired, I got the lymphoma diagnosis."
On November 4, 2009, van Wieren felt a bump on the back of his head; when he got it checked, he learned it was Stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma - making the next three years a major adjustment.
"Every time you're sitting there in that chair, getting those treatments, you're thinking, 'I hope this is working...'" said van Wieren of the chemotherapy treatments he received. "And I'm fortunate that, for me, it worked."
Indeed, it did. After three long rounds in the ring with cancer, van Wieren learned last year he had beaten it back; his cancer is in remission. He can now return to his regularly scheduled retirement... except van Wieren's been doing that all along.
"You can mope around and feel sorry for yourself, or you can go about your life," the man known as "The Professor" said. "I just decided, I wasn't gonna mope around and feel sorry for myself."
But cancer has changed his life in one important way: van Wieren now uses that legendary voice to spread the message of hope. He speaks at events for the American Cancer Society, and he still stays active with the Braves.
After all, if there's one thing he's learned from his time with America's Team, it's that keeping hope makes victory that much sweeter.
"I never gave up that this was gonna turn around someday, and it did," he said. "And when it did, it was wonderful.
"And that's the way I approach life," he said.
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