Matt Millen battles rare heart disorder in fight of his life

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Matt Millen was once the most despised man in Detroit sports, and 10 years later he's learned a lot from his time as the Lions general manager. 

But most important of all he finds himself battling the rare disease amyloidosis and is in the fight of his life. FOX 2 Sports Director Dan Miller caught up with him in Oakland as the Lions prepare for their preseason opener with the Raiders. 

"I'm not dead yet." Millen quipped. "I guess you don't die from amyloidosis; you die from the complications of it. I'm doing pretty good. I lost a bunch of weight. I still have more testing to do mostly with my heart. I'll just take what they give me. Get what you get."

FOX 2: "For people that don't know, your body is producing a protein affecting the function of your heart and it's down to about 30 percent now. 

"Yeah. they tell me it's at 30 percent," Millen said. "To understand, it's kind of like a cancer. The protocol I was on, was for multiple myeloma. So instead of producing cancer cells, it produces rogue protein cells that your body can't synthesize. They float around until they latch on to something. In my case, it latched on to my heart."

Millen has been through months of chemotherapy.  He needs a heart transplant. He's currently on three lists awaiting a call to save his life. A stem cell transplant is also possible. But so too, is the real chance none of this will come in time.

FOX 2: "Is it hard to accept there's something you want to beat but you can't just work for it?"

"My attitude is this; you get what you get. These are my cards," Millen said. "There's a reason I have these cards dealt to me. Make it work, that's what I'll do. Is it fun all the time? No. Sometimes it sucks. But then I go to the cancer center and see these people with cancer drips and I feel so bad for them. There's nothing they can do. they're on these drips and sitting there. Then I look at myself and think, I can handle that."

When Millen isn't in treatment, he stays close to the game he loves. He will work the preseason on the Raiders broadcasts and hopes to have a full schedule calling games this fall.

He also reflects on his disastrous run in Detroit running the Lions.

"I should have followed my instincts, my instincts were, initially, when I told Mr. Ford in the beginning I'm not qualified for this job. I said that and I said it with a knowledge that I didn't possess yet. I said it supposing I needed to understand more. And I was right.

"There's so much you don't know. it's such a big job. It wasn't about football, it was about people, managing people. It was about having, knowing the right people and getting rid of the right people. You know, I think what they're doing now, like what I see what Matt Patricia is doing right now and he's doing the right thing. There's a bit of experience behind him. he's been around it.

"I was in television. it had nothing to do with Xs and Os. Then, Dan, I got to tell you, the weirdest thing - it's like when I went to Detroit, it was like, my brain turned off or something. It's not how you build a team."

To hear more about Millen's thoughts about the Lions watch Dan Miller's video above.