There is still a long, jagged scar down the side of Ed Newman's powerful neck, and he must take medication daily and undergo a complete physical examination every six months.
But Newman, an offensive guard for the Miami Dolphins, knows those are small prices to pay for his continued good health. "I'm living a normal life now," he says. "I just take things a lot more seriously then before I had this problem."
His "problem" was cancer - a malignant tumor on his thyroid gland that was removed surgically in two operations, 10 days apart, in the winter of 1975.
And now, Ed Newman wants to tell people, "There should be no stigma attached to this. I'm not a medical hero. I just think I'm living proof that you can have a normal, productive life after having this kind of problem. It can happen to anyone, and I'm thankful I've come out of it."
There were, however, some very dark days for Newman. When he was first told of his conditions the Dolphins were in the stretch drive to the playoffs at the end of the 1974 season. He was a second-year man, starting in place of injured Wayne Moore.
"I first noticed it when I looked in the mirror," Newman, who will be in the Dolphins' lineup against the Redskins Saturday night, recalled, "It was right before the season started, and I didn't really think much about it. But then it didn't go away and I got concerned.
"It also made me very hyper. I've always been kind of a nervous person, but this thing caused the thyroid to get out of control. I was always anxious, I felt oppressed, almost paranoid because of the chemical reactions in my body. I used to hyperventilate a lot, too. I was just really uptight."
Midway through the seasoN, Newman was told by several doctors, including the Dolphin team physician, that he probably should have an operation. But Newman sought several more opinions, and was told he could probably risk waiting until after the season for surgery.
Newman also stepped in as a starter for Moore in the final four games, and he recalls that "I was under a tremendous amount of pressure. I thought I was going to crazy. Between having to start and worrying about the tumor, well, it wasn't a pleasant situation."
Most of Newman's teammates knew about his condition. "They even made jokes about it," he said. "One guy said we'd probably go to the Super Bowl and I'd drop dead in the end zone. I didn't laugh."
One day, Newman arrived late for a team meeting after undergoing some tests at a local hospital. Miami coach Don SHula, he said, "just flew off into a rampage. He's always kind of hysterical, anyway, but he just flew off. Later on, when he found out where I'd been, he apologized.
"The thing was, I didn't want to make this into a team problem. We were going for the playoffs, and that was most important. I didn't want anyone feeling sorry for me. I just wanted to go out and do my job, and have us win another championship."
The Dolphins were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, however, and Newman went back to New York for surgery. After the first operation, it was though that the tumor was benign. But after further tests, a malginancy showed, and Newman was back in surgery 10 days later.
"I was in the hospital for about four weeks," he said. "What really worried me was that I was getting very flabby. I wasn't losing any weight, but my muscle tone was disappearing."
As soon as he was released, Newman began a vigorous program of weightlifting. He began to watch his diet, eating very little red meat, lots of fruits and vegetables and fish. And he says, "I just started to take things a lot more seriously."
He is now considered the strongest man on the Miami team, able to bench-press 480 pounds, and is alternating at guard with Larry Little and Bob Kuchenberg.
Newman probably will start Saturday night and play opposite Redskin tackle Diron Talbert. Ironically, Talbert himself had a major scare two weeks ago when a lump appeared in his chest.
No one would say so at the time, but there was deep concern that Talbert's problem was also a tumor. It has since been treated successfully and diagnosed as an "inflammation of breast issue, but Newman knows what Talbert went through psychologically.
"Sure, it makes you think, and I'd be lying if I told you I still wasn't worried about it," Newman said. "But there should be no stigma attached to it. No one should be embarrassed by it. My mother used to tell me I shouldn't tell anybody about it. But I think it's important people know.
"I just want to tell people that this thing can be controlled, and that if you do have a problem, get to a doctor because they can do wonderful things. I'm just thankful I had the kind of attention I had."