Photographer Lucky to Be Hit on Sideline

ByABC News

Nov. 21, 2000 -- It’s unusual for someone to think they got a lucky break after learning they have a brain tumor. But that’s what Mickey Pflegler, a San Francisco sports photographer, thought when he heard the news.  

The lucky part is, the CAT scan of Pfleger’s brain was taken only after he had been hit by a player while working at a National Football League game in the Bay area. If not for the hit, Pfleger says he never would have bothered with the screening.

Pfleger, a freelance still photographer, has worked on the sidelines of NFL games for over 20 years and through hundreds of games, he had never been hit by a player.

That record changed when the San Francisco 49ers hosted the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Nov. 12.

Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez barreled into Pfleger during the game. Pfleger says he remembers nothing about the collision, except what others told him later.

“I don’t remember what was going on, but talking to people afterwards, [they said] he had bent over me and was asking me if I was OK. And, of course, I was unconscious so I couldn’t answer him. His sister called me that night and said he was real concerned,” Pfleger said.

CAT Scan Reveals Tumor

Doctors ran a CAT scan because of the concussion Pfleger suffered, and they found a tumor in his brain.

That coincidence might have saved his life, because now doctors are moving to treat the tumor he may never have discovered. Doctors will take a biopsy to determine what kind of tumor he has, and then he’ll receive radiation and other treatment.

Pfleger is thankful that he will begin treatment earlier than he otherwise would have.

“If I hadn’t taken this hit and gone to the hospital and they hadn’t done a CAT scan and something showed up on that ... I’m looking at it as that’s the reason this happened and hopefully it’s early and it can be taken care of,” Pfleger said.

“I wanna stick around...for a long time...shoot more games,” Pfleger added.

ABCNEWS Radio and ABC Affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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