CINCINNATI (Larry Davis) -- He never smoked a day in his life, but a long-time college football referee found himself battling throat cancer. Bobby Ables lost his voice, but he now has it back thanks to doctors at UC Health and the Barret Cancer Center. This ref and the doctors teamed up to toss a flag and throw cancer out of the game.Over the years, Bobby Ables has officiated some big college football games. The 2008 Ohio State/LSU National Championship game and last fall's big Ole Miss upset of Alabama are among them. He's discussed penalties with big name coaches like Alabama's Nick Saban. But on Monday, Ables, his wife and granddaughter returned to the UC Medical Center to say thanks to the doctors who gave him a voice in the fight against cancer."I live every day, wake up and feel blessed, said Ables.Diagnosed with throat cancer four years ago, the Arkansas resident elected to come to Cincinnati and UC Health for treatment."It was life or death, said Ables. I either go to a good place, have that done I cant speak highly enough of them.Bobby Ables has officiated some 500 football games in his career. He's spent the past 15 years as a division one field judge. Despite cancer, he has his voice back, thanks to local doctors.Since radiation did not work on his stage one cancer, doctors performed a laryngectomy, removing his voice box.All the structures are removed in their entirety, said Dr. Yash Patil. Then you take the trachea, and that is sewn to the skin, and so he is breathing only through his trachea.Ear, nose and throat doctor Yash Patil says that resulted in Ables being fitted with a voice prosthesis, allowing him to speak."He wears what's called a hands-free prosthesis, said Dr. Patil. It automatically senses when he is trying to speak and it shuts off that one-way valve and lets him speak."Most of the guys I work with, a lot of them dont even know that I breathe out of my neck, said Ables. They think everything is okay.Bobby Ables says a lot of people think he's just hoarse. Little do they know the battle he's waged to win the battle against cancer."I did not want this cancer to define who I am, said Ables. That in itself was my motivation" Bobby Ables never missed a game during his cancer fight. In addition, he even shot a hole-in-one three weeks after the operation.Follow Larry Davis on Twitter @larrydaviswkrc, and LIKE him on Facebook.Follow us on Twitter @Local12 and LIKE us on Facebook for updates!