CEDAR RAPIDS — The Major Arena Soccer League offseason was hardly nondescript for Pablo Da Silva.
In September, the second-year Rampage defender and team captain, 37, added the title of assistant coach under new Cedar Rapids Coach Jonathan Greenfield. As October arrived, Da Silva eagerly awaited the opportunity to play and coach for the Brazilian national team at the Minifootball World Cup.
But three days before the first World Cup match in Tunisia, a precautionary trip to the doctor on Oct. 3 placed everything in doubt for the Da Silva family.
“Unfortunately, a month ago my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Da Silva, who will be available when the Rampage (0-3) host the Harrisburg Heat Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center. “That time was a tough time for us.”
Gabi Da Silva, Pablo’s wife of six years, was playing with the couple’s 21-month-old daughter Melissa when the toddler’s head collided with Gabi’s chest. After a few days of continued soreness, Gabi decided to consult with a physician.
“My daughter saved my wife,” Da Silva said. “After that, we went to the doctor and found out it was a cancer.”
A 1.5-centimeter tumor was discovered. While relatively small, the ‘invasive ductal carcinoma’ diagnosis signaled an aggressive tumor with a high probability of quick growth and the potential to spread to other areas.
A chemotherapy regimen began immediately. Da Silva pulled out of the World Cup, and his MASL assistant coaching debut with the Rampage was delayed.
“We missed the preseason, which was obviously tough for us,” Da Silva said. “I’m sure now that the team will start buying in and start to understand what Coach Greenfield and I need from each of them. As soon as they start to get the system and the way that we are supposed to be playing, it will be much better.”
The Da Silva family has already begun to receive good news. After a few weeks of chemotherapy treatments, the tumor has decreased in size. Following Saturday’s game, Pablo will hurry back to Milwaukee in order to be with Gabi for another weekly treatment on Monday.
“I’ve got to be there with her to support her,” Da Silva said. “Life surprises you sometimes. There are some tough (things) that I have to go through. There is no other option.”
Da Silva is also a youth club soccer coach with the Milwaukee-area Inter Northshore FC, which started a GoFundMe page in order to assist the family with medical costs.
Saturday, Da Silva and the Rampage will try for their first victory after three road defeats, two by one score. Da Silva has two goals and an assist in two games.
“Now we’re back home,” said Da Silva, who posted nine goals and 19 assists last season. “I think we’ve got to take care of our home games. This home opener is going to be really important for us. Then we can start feeling how we win games again. We’ve got to start closing the games.”
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