PITTSFORD, N.Y. — After missing his team’s first practice for a personal reason, Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Peko announced Thursday evening his wife, Giuliana, was diagnosed with cancer back in June.
“Some may know and some may not but my wife was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma about a month ago,” Peko said Thursday in an Instagram post.
A day later, Peko was at St. John Fisher College for Bills practice — at Giuliana’s request.
“This is how I support my family, this is the way I take care of her and my kids,” Peko told reporters Friday. “To be honest, she’s the one who told me to get back out here, she told me not to miss (camp). As a husband and as a man, it’s my obligation to be there for my family.
“It’s crazy that I’m here but it’s her, she wouldn’t have it any other way.”
In an Instagram post dated July 5, Giuliana Peko said the diagnosis came roughly two months after she discovered a lump on her neck.
Speaking after practice Friday, Kyle Peko said his wife is in good spirits, all things considered, and is committed to her treatment and recovery. Giuliana, 24, posted a picture of her first day of chemotherapy last week with the caption, “Day 1 of 12 [heart emoji].”
“She’s doing good now, very positive,” Kyle Peko said. “As good as anybody could be taking it, I guess. She’s strong, she’s a fighter and she knows that right now it’s temporary, and if she keeps fighting this will all be gone in hopefully six months.”
His teammates offered their support on and off the field after his announcement, a sentiment that flowed from team owners Terry and Kim Pegula, to head coach Sean McDermott — who admired the 26-year-old’s strength, both physical, mental and emotional.
“We’re all human and we go through challenges, but the challenge that Kyle and his family are facing is a significant one,” McDermott said. “I want to let his family know that we are with them all the way and will continue to pray for them and support them any way we can.
“This is where the rubber meets the road. These guys are human and they’re no different than anyone else out there. They go through things just like we all do.”
McDermott said the Pekos’ story is another reminder that underneath players’ protective gear is a human being.
“It puts things in perspective in a hurry,” McDermott said. “This is important what we do, no doubt about it, but at the end of the day these guys have lives outside of football and families to support.”
Peko signed with the Bills in 2018 after two seasons with the Denver Broncos. He and Giuliana have been married since December 2014 and have two children.