Benton Community's Jeff Zittergruen ready to move on from cancer battle

VAN HORNE, Iowa (KCRG) - Being the head football coach at Benton Community is a dream job for Jeff Zittergruen. Not just because it's his first ever head coaching job, it's also his alma mater.

"It's great," he said. "We have great kids, great families. This community is awesome."

Zittergruen and the Bobcats are set to host South Tama for the 2019 season opener on Friday. But earlier this year, Zittergruen had to face a much different opponent. This past spring, he was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer.

"It was scary, definitely," Zuttergruen said. "Anytime you hear that word, it's frightening. Having kids and worrying about them and my wife, but the support has been amazing."

In May, he had surgery to have his thyroid removed. The recovery took about a week. Three months later, not even a week into football practice, doctors found more cancer in his neck area. Zittergruen had to miss a few practices as doctors cleaned out the cancer. The recovery also took about another week.

"The prognosis for this type (of cancer) is usually pretty good," he said. "It spread a little bit farther than we initially thought, but they've (the doctors) got a really good plan in place."

Zittergruen says he's feeling very good after his most recent surgery, and now, he can finally focus solely on football.

"Just having something here that you want to get back to and get things going on the right track, for sure is definitely helpful in the recovery process," he said.