Following an outstanding season in which he earned All-California honors as at College of the Redwoods, Dillon went through a transformation of his body and psyche that coaches, friends and family couldn’t understand. He went from a muscular 320 pounds to 380, developed symptoms of bipolar disorder, and finally became a near vegetable, suffering from what appeared to be severe clinical depression. As he went in and out of hospitals, no firm diagnosis was reached.
Most of his close friends and family thought he was abusing drugs. Dillon was adamant in his denial of abusing drugs, but also knew something was very wrong. During his struggles, Dillon also developed diabetes, which actually helped his family doctor reach a diagnosis. During an appointment for diabetes monitoring, the doctor suggested that Dillon might have a rare disorder called Cushing’s disease. A scan revealed a huge tumor wrapped around his heart and left lung, one that had developed the ability to excrete the hormone cortisol, resulting in his erratic behavior and body changes. Open heart surgery removed the tumor, but his left lung was now useless.
Determined to continue his football career at Humboldt State, Dillon reported to training camp in August only four months after surgery. With a single functioning lung, he started all 11 games that season, and was named to the All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference team.