One year and one week ago Bismarck State College basketball coach Jim Jeske’s life changed forever.

“So a year ago December 1st I was diagnosed with lung cancer,” Jeske explained.

What Jeske thought was a common cold with a tough cough turned into a doctor’s visit that turned the 54-year old coach’s world upside down, stage four cancer.

“Being the coach that I am and that I want to be, I said ‘Hey we’ve got to do something we can’t just sit here,'” Jeske said. “When we started the treatment I think that was a little bit of a relief for me knowing that we’re on our way to trying to beat this and trying to have full recovery.”

As the youngest of six kids Jeske says telling his older siblings was one of the hardest moves, but he decided to keep the news from his team as he continued to coach. The decision to stay on the court is part of what keeps him motivated.

“I’ll be honest with you, without that competitive piece I think you could find yourself going home doing a lot of things, a lot of wondering and a lot of things,” Jeske said. “I know that on the road to recovery you have to continue to battle. I mean I love coaching, and I had an opportunity and I wanted to see it through.”

Jeske has since opened up, using his experience to guide his team on the good days and the bad.

“I marvel at it,” BSC assistant coach Doug Swenson said. “The strength that it takes to do that is… I’m not quite sure I understand it or a lot of us would. He’s got a toughness to him that has really shown through.”

“He comes everyday puts in work, and we owe him for us to give our all at this point,” sophomore guard Garrick Baines said. “If he doesn’t give up there’s no reason we should give up.”

The fight has become more than just Jeske’s. It’s something other coaches and all of the BSC athletes have taken on as a team, and Jeske is using his platform to spread a message using just one word.

“You know I just try to live life with gratitude,” Jeske said. “More than just a thank you. That whole heartfelt you’re in this thing, they’re in it together, we’re in it to win it. I think just being grateful everyday for what people do and what you are able to do.”

Jeske has embraced a new passion for bringing awareness to the disease that changed his life. One that claims more lives every year than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Jeske started his mission this year by carrying out the idea of a white out game for lung cancer awareness.

“Just the whole game perspective for me was, ‘Hey, it’s November. We’re going to do something, because I’m passionate about it and we want to bring awareness,'” Jeske said.

He’s bringing awareness to a battle that belongs to more than just himself. A fight that he’ll continue with his team by his side.

“The ups and downs in life, they’re going to be there everyday,” Jeske explained. “If I can show them and just be a model for them, like, hey I’ve got some really crappy days, but I’m here. Just like they may have some crappy days and they’re here. Part of that for me is just showing up and modeling and just trying to do the best I can.”

Jeske now has a break from chemotherapy for three months. before he has another CT scan, but he says so far his body has responded to treatment well, and he feels good about where he’s at.