Bitter or Better? Changing The Way You Perceive Your Diagnosis

Former NFL player Rolf Benirschke spoke to CURE® about his life-changing diagnosis and offers advice and encouragement to patients coping with a diagnosis of any kind.

Due to his struggle with ulcerative colitis and other serious gastrointestinal issues, Rolf Benirschke, nearly lost his life — and his career – when he collapsed on a flight during his third season as a placekicker for the San Diego Chargers. After surviving two emergency surgeries and being admitted to the intensive care unit for six weeks, Benirschke would go on to play seven more seasons with the Chargers and became the first NFL player ever to wear an ostomy bag.

“You can choose to be the victim or you can choose to be the victor,” said Benirschke. “In the process you have to change… the way you perceive the diagnosis.”

When he retired from the NFL, Benirschke became the chief executive officer of Legacy Health Strategies, a patient engagement company, and founded The Grateful Patient Project.

The patient advocate spoke with CURE® about his initial reaction to his life-changing diagnosis, offering hope, encouragement and coping advice to all individuals who have received a life-altering diagnosis of any kind.

“You get to choose,” he added. “Do I stay bitter or do I choose to get better?”