One Of A Kind: Despite use of only one lung, right guard Dillon Reagan helps solidify Jacks’ offensive line

The Big Uglies. The Big Nasties. The Hogs.

All terms used to describe a football team’s offensive line.

More often than not, it takes a special breed of player to be willing to do battle in the trenches.

Humboldt State right guard Dillon Reagan can without a doubt be bestowed with the title of special.

From overcoming Cushing’s Syndrome — a rare disease which left him with the use of only one lung — to the depression that was associated with the disorder, the Issaquah, Wash. native has definitely taken the road less traveled.

”The hardest part,” Reagan began, “was the first four months. (Doctors) didn’t know what was necessarily wrong with me. I was misdiagnosed as bipolar.”

Reagan displayed the initial symptoms of Cushing’s in 2009 after earning second-team All-State honors as a freshman at College of the Redwoods. A disorder caused by a tumor on one of the endocrine glands, Cushing’s causes a massive secretion of hormones which can affect behavior and physical appearance.

It did that and more to Reagan.

”I had full-ride scholarships taken away,” he said.

A full-body scan revealed a softball-sized tumor wrapped around his heart and left lung. Open heart surgery remedied the situation but his left lung useless.

In the midst of all this, Reagan also developed diabetes.

It would have been quite easy for the 6-foot-3 kid from Washington to call it quits. No one would have blamed him.

But an offensive lineman never quits.

”I never changed my approach,” Reagan said. “It’s a position of dominance and perseverance. Being an offensive lineman helped me get through all that. It helped me not feel sorry for myself.

”It was a long road back to full speed, but, your body reacts to how you push it.”

And push he did.

Reagan hit the weight room and transformed his body — which ballooned to 380 pounds due to Cushing’s — back to the muscular 300-pound frame he showcased his freshman year. He returned to Redwoods for his sophomore campaign and again displayed the skills that made him a Division I commodity.

”I ended up getting All-California,” Reagan said. “And with the use of only one lung.”

Looking to further his football career at the university level, there was really only one option.

”I wanted to go to a good program,” Reagan said. “That clear answer was Humboldt State.”

Reagan noted the close ties Redwoods and Humboldt shared as a deciding factor. His coach at CR was Duke Manyweather, a former HSU player himself. Reagan also sought the guidance of Humboldt State strength and conditioning coach Drew Petersen during his road to physical recovery.

Reagan asked to join Humboldt State as a non-scholarship athlete during the 2012 Spring semester and head coach Rob Smith and his coaching staff were more than happy to have him.

The following season, Reagan showed why.

As a junior, Reagan started 11 games for the Jacks providing a stabilizing force for a unit which paved the way for running backs to gain 2,152 total yards. He also earned second-team all conference honors.

It is amazing how high Reagan has risen after seeing how far he had fallen. An inspiration and uplifting athlete, it is easy to label him special.

Just don’t tell Reagan that.

”It takes me a little longer to warm up and get to game speed. But I don’t want to be treated differently than my teammates,” he said.

Entering his senior season, Reagan is being counted upon to be a stalwart right guard as he is only one of two returning starters (center and good friend David Kulp the other) from last season’s road graders.

Reagan is more than ready.

”As an offensive lineman, you show up every day, no matter what happens outside of practice, no matter what’s going on at home, no matter how beat up you are. You do it again and do it every day,” he said. “We set the tempo for the rest of the practice, rest of the game. If we don’t know up, it’s hard for everyone else to show up.”

Three positions are up for grabs on the Jacks’ front line. Reagan likes what he is seeing from the player stepping up to the plate.

”Start with tackle,” Reagan began, “(Jonathon) Rowe has made tremendous contributions at camp. He’s really growing up for his in a short time. Jonathan Bajet, he’s moving over from the defensive line, and he’s been really neck-and-neck for a starting guard position. David (Kulp), he’s a great guy to play next too, a great guy to have in your corner. It just works. We don’t have to say anything, we know what we’re doing. And (Jarrett) Adams has stepped up a bit. In the last few weeks he’s learned how to play right tackle.”

Humboldt is still knee-deep in competition in preparation for the Sept. 7 season-opening home contest against Simon Fraser. Reagan notes practicing daily against a defensive line which features returners Alex Markarian, Silas Sarvinski and Tommy Stuart, to name a few, helps both the O and D.

”They are adapting to our fast offense,” Reagan said. “You’re only as good as you practice. No one shows up game day and plays good. We challenge each other every day. It gets intense. But it’s all out of competition. Competition is a thing that drives a football team.”

If everything falls into place, all the Jacks’ hard work will result in one thing: Great Northwest Athletic Conference supremacy.

There’s simply no better lasting impression for Reagan.

”A GNAC Championship,” he said. “That puts you down in the books forever, that GNAC Championship.”

Title or not, it’s a pretty safe bet Reagan has already left a lasting impression.


Ray Aspuria can be reached evenings at 707-441-0527 or Follow him at


From The Times-Standard

Differences Between Cushing’s Syndrome and Cushing’s Disease

What’s the difference between Cushing’s Disease and Cushing’s Syndrome?


Cushing’s syndrome is a hormonal disorder

Cortisol is a normal hormone produced in the outer portion of the adrenal glands. When functioning normally, cortisol helps the body respond to stress and change. It mobilizes nutrients, modifies the body’s response to inflammation, stimulates the liver to raise blood sugar, and helps control the amount of water in the body. Cortisol production is regulated by the adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), produced in the pituitary gland. Spontaneous overproduction of cortisol in the adrenals is divided into two groups – those attributed to an excess of ACTH and those that are independent of ACTH.

Cushing’s syndrome is the term used to describe a group of symptoms that occur when a persons’ cortisol levels are too high (known as hypercortisolism) for too long. The majority of people have Cushing’s syndrome because they are regularly taking certain medicine(s) that continually add too much cortisol to the body. Doctors call this an “exogenous” (outside the body) cause of Cushing’s syndrome. Other people have Cushing’s syndrome because something is causing the adrenal gland(s) to overproduce cortisol. Doctors call this an “endogenous” (inside the body) cause of Cushing’s syndrome.


Cushing’s disease is a form of Cushing’s syndrome

Cushing’s disease is the most common form of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. It is caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland that secretes excessive amounts of a hormone called Adrenocorticotropic hormone, or ACTH. Fortunately, this type of tumor is typically benign. Unlike a cancerous (malignant) tumor, a benign tumor stays in its original location and will not spread. After you are diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome, it is important that your doctor continues the diagnostic process to determine the cause of hypercortisolism.

From the message boards It is not only a tumor that causes Cushings Disease—many of us have the rarer form of this rare disease which is Pituitary Hyperplasia. It also causes CD and may be nodular (shown on MRI s a tumor) or dispersed (meaning spread throughout the gland).

How a pituitary tumor causes Cushing’s disease


ACTH is a hormone produced in your pituitary gland. ACTH travels to your adrenal glands and signals them to produce cortisol.

Pituitary adenomas are benign tumors of the pituitary gland which secrete increased amounts of ACTH, causing excessive cortisol production. Most patients have a single adenoma. First described in 1912 by neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing in his book The Pituitary Body and its Disorders, Cushing’s disease is the most common cause of spontaneous Cushing’s syndrome, accounting for 60 to 70 percent of cases.

If a person has Cushing’s disease, it means that a group of abnormal cells has built up in the pituitary gland to form an ACTH-producing pituitary tumor. These abnormal cells produce ACTH, just as normal pituitary gland cells do—only far too much. The excess ACTH travels to adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are then bombarded with signals to produce more and more cortisol. As a result, the adrenal glands continuously secrete too much cortisol.

Ectopic ACTH Syndrome

Some benign or malignant (cancerous) tumors that arise outside the pituitary can produce ACTH. This condition is known as ectopic ACTH syndrome. Lung tumors cause more than 50 percent of these cases. Other less common types of tumors that can produce ACTH are thymomas, pancreatic islet cell tumors, and medullary carcinomas of the thyroid.

Adrenal Tumors

Adrenal glands.jpg

An abnormality of the adrenal glands such as an adrenal tumor may cause Cushing’s syndrome. Most of these cases involve non-cancerous tumors called adrenal adenomas, which release excess cortisol into the blood.

Adrenocortical carcinomas, or adrenal cancers, are the least common cause of Cushing’s syndrome. Cancer cells secrete excess levels of several adrenal cortical hormones, including cortisol and adrenal androgens. Adrenocortical carcinomas often cause very high hormone levels and rapid onset of symptoms.

Familial Cushing’s syndrome

Most cases of Cushing’s syndrome are not genetic. However, some individuals may develop Cushing’s syndrome due to an inherited tendency to develop tumors of one or more endocrine glands. In Primary Pigmented Micronodular Adrenal Disease, children or young adults develop small cortisol-producing tumors of the adrenal glands. In Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type I (MEN I), hormone secreting tumors of the parathyroid glands, pancreas and pituitary occur. Cushing’s syndrome in MEN I may be due to pituitary, ectopic or adrenal tumors.

Risk factors

Obesity, type 2 diabetes, poorly controlled blood glucose (blood sugar levels), and high blood pressure may increase the risk of developing this disorder.

Adapted from

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