One of the most inspirational stories of this Super Bowl is the battle with cancer waged by New York Giants rookie linebacker Mark Herzlich. He is finishing his second season back in football after missing a season at Boston College after his diagnosis.
“This week is all about football and all about playing,” Herzlich said this week. “But there are people out there who are going through cancer right now who see that and say, ‘Hey, if he’s doing it, I can do it.’ ”
Herzlich missed the 2009 season after he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. After treatment, he returned to play last season at Boston College and was signed by the Giants in July as an undrafted rookie.
“Playing football again was that goal and that really pushed me,” Herzlich said earlier in the week. “After six hours of chemotherapy, you’re sitting there and your body just feels drained. You don’t want to move. But I said, ‘I’m going to be playing football again in eight months, so I need to go and work out. I need to go ride a bike, get some cardio in.’ That’s what I did.
“I made a highlight video for myself from the 2008 season. The real bad days, I would put that [on] in the chemo room and watch that kind of on repeat, over and over again, just to kind of see myself succeeding. That’s something that as you go through things, you learn that you have to see yourself succeed, whether mentally or actually in person. That can help you do it.”
When the Giants arrived in Indianapolis Monday, Herzlich wrote on Twitter that he was walking off a plane to play in the Super Bowl only a couple years after being told he might never walk again.
He said this week he is tested every four months to make sure his cancer hasn’t returned. Those tests will come every six months once he reaches the three-year mark since his diagnosis in May, he said, and then will be yearly when he is five years removed from the discovery he had cancer.
“I get the tests done and then we sit in the doctor’s office and wait for the results,” Herzlich said. “I don’t think anything is coming back. But when you’re waiting there for the results, you never know what could happen. It gets a little stressful.”
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