Falcons owner Blank vows to fight cancer, move on to Super Bowl bid

He’s facing one of the biggest, off-field battles of his life. But Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Tuesday he plans to beat prostate cancer, and his prognosis is good.

“In December I was diagnosed with a treatable form of prostate cancer,” Blank said in a statement on Tuesday. “Over the last several weeks Angie (Macuga) and I have visited a number of expert doctors and hospitals across the country to identify the best treatment options for me.”

Blank, 73, didn’t say how far his cancer had progressed or how it was diagnosed. But he said he’s ready to fight it and move on. And his third wedding is still planned for June, when he will marry Macuga.

“I have chosen an aggressive approach that will include surgery, and the overall prognosis is good. I’m looking forward to getting this behind me and continuing a very active lifestyle, my upcoming wedding, as well as continued active involvement in our businesses and philanthropic efforts for years to come.”

A spokesman for Blank said the owner would have no further comment.

Though he’s not treating Blank, a cancer surgeon and urologist with Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute said the prognosis for many men diagnosed with prostate cancer is good.

“There are multiple ways to treat a man diagnosed with (prostate) cancer,” Dr. Christopher Filson said Tuesday.

In addition to surgery, patients can fight the disease with radiation or chemotherapy. If cancer is present in other parts of the body, treatment can be more difficult.

A healthy man treated for prostate cancer generally can expect a relatively fast recovery, as well as the ability to return to an active, healthy life, Filson said.

Prostate cancer is second only to skin cancer for men, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 10-year survival rate post diagnosis is 97 percent, per the American Cancer Society.

The older the man, the greater his risk of prostate cancer, according to the CDC. A family history of the disease also increases one’s risk of diagnosis, which is made through ultrasound and biopsy. Some men do not have any symptoms prior to diagnosis.

A Hands-On Owner

Blank, a co-founder of The Home Depot and head of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, purchased the Falcons in 2002 for $545 million and flirted with buying the Atlanta Braves in 2006. He also has founded the Major League Soccer expansion franchise the Atlanta United FC, which is set to begin play in 2017. Both the Falcons and the United are scheduled to open play in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2017.

A hands-on owner often seen on the sidelines, Blank’s investment in the team has paid off. The Falcons were estimated to be worth $1.67 billion by Forbes magazine in September.

In August, Blank told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he planned to take a step back from his day-to-day work and hire a CEO. He said he planned to spend more time with family, but said his health wasn’t a factor.

“I don’t plan on not working,” Blank said. “I’m still going to be involved in strategy, still will be involved with the businesses, also will be a cultural ambassador for the organization in a variety of ways. I’ll spend more time doing things I want to do than things I have to do, and leave more of the have-to’s to somebody else.”

In Good Spirits

Blank last talked with The AJC on Friday in San Francisco, where he traveled for the Super Bowl. He didn’t mention his diagnosis. But he was in good spirits while discussing the future for his football team, the premium seat license situation for the new stadium and the hopes for landing the Super Bowl in 2019 or 2020. Blank is scheduled to attend the NFL spring meetings in May in Charlotte.

“We have the largest aquarium in the world,” Blank said Friday. “The National Civil Rights Museum, the World of Coke, the kids’ museum and all kinds of great amenities. And all of them are within walking distance. That’s a major plus for bringing the Super Bowl to Atlanta.”

Blank did not say Tuesday when or where he would undergo surgery.

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