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Chargers GM diagnosed with lung cancer

SAN DIEGO, July 30 (UPI) -- San Diego Chargers General Manager John Butler has been diagnosed with lung cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

At Butler's request, team officials made the announcement at a team meeting Monday night.

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"During his treatments, he is tending to business as usual and wants everyone in the Chargers family to do the same," said Chargers President Alex Spanos in a prepared statement. "While he is grateful for the kind thoughts and interest, he wants the entire organization to remain focused on bringing a world championship to San Diego."

Butler, 55, has been unavailable for comment. Coach Marty Schottenheimer informed the players of his condition during the meeting.

"John has been a winner and fierce competitor on and off the field his whole life," said Spanos. "We all have confidence that he will overcome this new challenge. We're behind John 100 percent."

Butler is known to have been a long-time smoker before joining the Chargers last year after 14 seasons with the Buffalo Bills. A team official made it clear Tuesday that Butler he gave up cigarettes shortly after arriving in San Diego.

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Butler will undergo chemotherapy for an unspecified period, after which he will receive radiation treatments.

The cancer has not stopped Butler from attending every practice since the team opened training camp, although he had been spending less time in the office before that.

In just two offseasons, he has stamped his fingerprints on the organization by bringing in free agents such as Doug Flutie, Marcellus Wiley, Ryan McNeil and Donnie Edwards, while drafting LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, Quentin Jammer and Toniu Fonoti.

The team finished only 5-11 last year, but there is a current of optimism this year because of the hiring of Schottenheimer.

"Those two men at the top make a difference, Coach Schottenheimer and John Butler," said defensive end Al Fontenot.

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