“Where There’s a Wil, There’s a Way”
Author’s Statement: This is the story of my life and what is unique is that the background song that starts playing is a song created by the Songs of Love Foundation and it about me, my family, and my life. My life is an interesting epic where it shows that with love, hope, and the desire to positively enhance your life anything is possible. Although I will probably set foot on a Major League ball field as a player, from where I’ve been accomplishing what I have is as magical as God, Himself. I started and ended this digital story will a speech that Jim Valvano gave during his last few months battling cancer and his words are as true and enlightening as ever which is remarkable coming from a dying man. I’d like to think that this speech and his quote, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up” was prescribed in my mentality on life from an early age and will laugh, love, and cherish each day I live like it’s my last. The video clips inserted were my parents speaking about my childhood battle with Neuroblastoma and my triumph in a video created by Brendan Anderson, which can be seen in four parts here on YouTube.
Transcript: This is Jimmy Valvano at the 1993 ESPYs award ceremony, he was losing a horrendous battle to cancer and he fell shortly following this speech. Now at the time I was an infant, a newborn, oops there’s me, where ever since I can remember I had planned on becoming a Major League ballplayer,but sometimes in life, God likes to challenge his children with true testaments of their strength and their willpower to live, allowing his light to shine bright for the world to see. Unfortunately for me, and my professional baseball career in the making, He chose me.
At the age of four I started experiencing gut wrenching stomach cramps where I was doubled over in pain, like I had been blind sided by a defensive tackle. My parents took me in to the doctor and they found a tumor. They diagnosed me with a tumor known as Neuroblastoma. The American Cancer Society defines Neuroblastoma as, ‘a type of cancer that starts in a very early forms of the cells and found in an embryo or fetus. (The term neuro refers to nerves, while blastoma refers to a cancer that affects immature or developing cells). The type of cancer I had mostly occurs in infants and young children where it is rarely found in children older than 10 years old.’ (“What Is Neuroblastoma?” What Is Neuroblastoma? American Cancer Society, 14 Mar. 2014. Web. 05 July 2015. (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/neuroblastoma/detailedguide/neuroblastoma-what-is-neuroblastoma.) My case, I had a twenty percent chance of survival going against all odds my treatment plan consisted of six rounds of chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, followed by radiation.
With all the odds stacked against me, God saved my life. Since the survival rate for Neuroblastoma isn’t the most promising there wasn’t much of protocol for post-treatment rather than semi-annual routinely check ups and blood drawings. I went toe to toe against the Devil and following any brutal war there will always be some battle scars where I’ve survived with a dysfunctional left adrenal gland and kidney, hearing loss in my right ear, stunted growth hormones, and shorten roots in my teeth resulting in a mouth full of implants. But despite all of my flaws it has been impossible for me to accept that I am, or was, any different that anyone else, where it wasn’t until I’ve gotten older that I’ve truly understood the beauty behind my life, thanking God daily that I am not only alive but not affected physically or mentally like so many of my counterparts.
Giving God his rightful praise is always priority in any survival situation but in actuality I would have never have survived without my parents, who granted me with the greatest gift any child could ever receive in life; they believed in me and my life. While although I never will become a professional ball player, I played four years of collegiate baseball here at Austin College, and am the only known Neuroblastoma survivor to compete collegiately. So like the saying goes, “Where There’s a Wil, There’s a Way.”