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A Hero’s Tale: Coach Mac Took on Life – and Cancer – with Rare Strength

The words landed like an emotional grenade – “stage 4 bladder cancer.”

Then Bob McIntosh gathered himself and summoned his legendary strength. He locked eyes with his anguished wife and said these words: “We are going to fight.”

A mighty influence

Charlie (short for Charlotte) McIntosh describes the love of her life – the legendary Lake Hamilton football coach, weight lifter and champion bodybuilder – as a man whose physical strength was surpassed only by his concrete character, powerful positivity and intense and intentional investment in others. These traits would be amplified in their time of greatest crisis.

Charlie said they were told: “Go home and wrap up your affairs, because you won’t make it. You’ll be lucky to live two years.”

A mighty “angel”

Coach Mac and Charlie spent a few days in a Hot Springs hospital, resolved to fight the cancer but a bit unsure about how to go about it.

That’s when Samantha Costello, R.N., a case manager for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, came into the picture.

“Bob called Samantha our ‘angel on earth’ because she was always there to help us when we needed it.” Charlie said. “… For anyone facing a situation like this. I would give them one simple piece of advice: they need a Samantha. You can’t face anything like that alone.”

After six months of managing through 12 rounds of chemo, surgery and recovery, Team McIntosh received great news: Coach Mac was cancer-free! The report washed away months of anxiety and struggle and replaced it with grateful relief. The war with cancer was over.

Faces of Fearless® national honoree was a true winner

Coach Mac was so grateful, he entered the national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s annual Faces of Fearless® award program – to recognize Samantha.

“When you get hit with a cancer diagnosis, that’s a big enough lump to swallow – but in one flash not only do you feel alone, but there’s so many decisions and loose ends,” Coach Mac wrote in his Faces of Fearless entry. “Samantha was always there to guide, assist and watch over us.”

Eventually, the word came that Coach Mac had been chosen as one of two winners of the Faces of Fearless award.

A mighty loss

But just as word came that Coach Mac had been chosen, he became gravely ill. This time, the battle was over in a few short weeks.

At the national award ceremony in late April in the Dallas area, Samantha accepted the award on behalf of the McIntoshes.

A mighty example

Samantha says the McIntoshes were a model of positivity during a time of health crisis. “From Day One, they were very easy to work with,” she said. “Even though they were going through something very hard, they were just incredibly positive people. … Going through this journey with the McIntoshes has changed me for the better, and I think that’s a perfect example of Bob’s legacy.”

Expert help for complex cases

When you need help with a serious diagnosis, nurse case managers like Samantha are available to support you and your family and help you navigate the healthcare system.

Case management services can:

  • Help you better understand and deal with the complexities of the healthcare system and your health plan
  • Identify cost-effective alternatives to high-cost treatments
  • Maximize the benefits available under your health plan
  • Educate you and/or your family to handle aspects of your care your physician agrees you can manage

To speak with a case manager, call the number on the back of your health plan member ID card.

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