Matt Millen plans to return to the broadcast booth this fall, beginning with Penn State’s season opener, as he continues treatment for a rare disease that will require him to undergo a heart transplant.
Millen, the Whitehall High and Penn State graduate, said Tuesday that he feels stronger and has more stamina eight weeks after completing a course of chemotherapy. Millen is being treated for amyloidosis, a rare disease that reduced his heart capacity and led him to be listed for a heart transplant.
Millen said that his amyloidosis is in remission, but he does not know how long that will last. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic told him last year that the damage done to his heart by the disease eventually would require him to have a transplant.
He also could undergo a blood stem-cell transplant, a treatment that is an option for some cases of amyloidosis, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Amyloidosis occurs when abnormal proteins called amyloids, produced in the bone marrow, build up in organs or tissue. Though there’s no cure, amyloidosis is manageable with chemotherapy (similar to multiple myeloma) to stop cell growth.
“I feel a lot better,” Millen said at the Big Ten media days, which he attended as part of Big Ten Network’s broadcast team. “My stomach isn’t bothering me like it did, I have strength, and I’m starting to taste things again. But [his doctors] may want to do the stem-cell transplant. We’ll wait and see. I’m not thrilled with that one, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Millen remains committed to football, however, as he enters his fourth season at the Big Ten Network. Millen was part of BTN’s broadcast team for Penn State’s Blue-White Game and will return to State College for the Lions’ season-opener Sept. 1 against Appalachian State.
Meanwhile, Millen remains busy at his Bucks County home doing carpentry and woodworking.
“Heck, what I do at home is way harder than [calling games],” Millen said. “And I keep trying to push myself a little bit. I was cutting some oak the other day, and it was a big log. It needed to be moved, and I was the only one there, so I moved it.
“Probably shouldn’t do that. I’ve got to stop every now and then, but I feel good.”
Mark Silverman, president of the Big Ten Network, said Millen’s arrival at the network in 2015 gave it “a step up in our credibility.” Millen is BTN’s lead analyst with broadcast partner Kevin Kugler.
“He’s just an inspiration in how he handles himself and how he’s handled his sickness,” Silverman said. “He wants to work. He doesn’t complain. Your heart goes out to him for his recovery, as best he can, and we want to do all we can to help him. He’s been really important for us.”