Tackling bone cancer

Written by Community Health Network on 7/29/2014 6:15:00 AM

Mark Herzlich, NY Giants linebacker and cancer survivorNot only is Mark Herzlich number 58 and linebacker for the New York Giants, but a cancer survivor too.

As a college football player at Boston College, Herzlich was used to getting hit hard. But when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, that hit came harder than the rest.

In January 2009, Herzlich was coming off of a great football season, but was bothered by a lot of leg pain while sleeping. Soreness and pain was nothing new for the athlete, but this pain nagged him and did not go away. So, during a holiday break his mother made an appointment with his doctor.

An MRI revealed that he had a bone tumor on his femur and a biopsy that followed confirmed it was Ewing's Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. But like he tackled players on the field, Herzlich felt it was only right that he tackle his cancer too. 

He told the NY Post, "I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of brutal, bone-crunching hits -- pain radiating through my body. And after each one, I’ve risen up from the hard ground and walked off the pain."

Herzlich's treatment plan included seven months of chemotherapy and 50 radiation therapy sessions. Following this was surgery to have a titanium rod placed into his leg to strengthen it.

While his battle didn't come easy, he completed chemo and had a final MRI to determine if he was cancer-free. His results (that were announced live on ESPN's College GameDay at Boston College) revealed that he was cancer-free and able to play in the 2010 football season. 

Herzlich had a great season, but went unpicked in April's NFL draft. But that setback was nothing compared to what he had already overcome. He continued to work hard and secured a spot on the New York Giants and in Super Bowl history. In 2011, Mark celebrated the NY Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI win over New England.

Today, Mark is 26, engaged to be married, and sharing his cancer story in his new book, "WHAT IT TAKES: Fighting for My Life and My Love of the Game".

Learn more about bone cancer
Although rare, there are approximately 14,000 new cases of sarcoma diagnosed each year in the United States. Learn the facts and know the signs.

Sources: ESPN and NY Post

Tags: chemotherapy , radiation therapy | Posted in: Bone , Sarcoma

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