“It’s been something that’s been pressing on my heart for a while,” Calvillo told reporters after his Montreal Alouettes beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 21-18 at Commonwealth Stadium.
“After the game, I didn’t want to say a dang thing, but the emotions got the better of me.
“This thing has been bottled up in me and I’ve only been able to share it with my wife and close ones.
“Now I have nothing else to look forward to on the football field, and now I’ve got to look forward to getting this surgery done.”
Calvillo said doctors found a lesion on his throat when he was hospitalized after he injured his sternum in an Aug. 19 game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Tests and a biopsy were inconclusive, he said, but doctors agreed while surgery could wait the lesion had to come out soon, along with half of Calvillo’s thyroid.
The short-term impact was slight, just some cracking of his voice.
He said regardless of the outcome, it won’t force him to quit football if he decides to return for an 18th season.
“I’ll be ready to play football next year.”
It’s a scary case of history repeating itself for the 38-year-old California-born pivot.
In October 2007 his wife Alexia Kontolemos had a cancer scare. Exactly one week after the birth of their second daughter, she found out she had non-Hodgkin’s tumour of the lymph glands and lymph nodes. Calvillo took an indefinite leave of absence to be by her side and missed the rest of the season.
He decided the following spring to return to football.
He said his immediate plans are to enjoy the victory, his third in eight years with the Alouettes, then go for a week holiday with his family in California.
“We’re going to evaluate everything but the big thing for us is (that) the lesion comes back benign and we can move forward from there.”
Calvillo struggled at times in the first half of Sunday’s game, underthrowing receivers. But in the second half he threw darts to receivers on short routes to seal the victory.
He completed 29-of-42 passes for 336 yards.
He said the game has helped him get through the uncertainty.
“I’ve always looked forward to playing football. Even when my wife was going through her cancer, football was an outlet for me,” he said.
“For me, football gave me an opportunity not to think about it.”
Calvillo was one of a number of Alouette veterans asked about retirement following the win.
Slotback Ben Cahoon, the league’s all-time receptions leader, walked off the field to the chants of “One more year! One more year!” from pockets of fans.
The 38-year-old said he hasn’t made a retirement decision yet, but said he’s not swayed by the lure of going out on top.
“My decision has never been based on winning or losing the last game,” he said. (But) you end on a note like this, it makes you want to come back for more.”
Rush end Anwar Stewart turns 35 in February, but said he’s not ready to hang up his cleats.
“I still got some more juice left in my tank,” he said. “My tank’s not empty and hopefully we’ll get back here again, because this can never get old.”