Carlos Diaz is going up against his toughest opponent with the spirit and attitude of a winner.

The former Woodrow Wilson High School football player has cancer and on Tuesday began the procedure that will make him the first person in the Washington area to receive a double bone marrow transplant as part of his intensive chemotherapy program.

Diaz, 19, was a freshman walk-on wide receiver at Temple University in Philadelphia when he learned last fall he had abdominal cancer. Since then, relatives and friends have been working to raise more than $300,000 to pay for his medical care. Diaz does not have medical insurance and Medicaid will not pay for the fairly new procedure.

"Some people have trials and tribulations. I've had mine earlier in my life," the athlete said from his hospital bed at the Vincent T. Lombardi Cancer Research Center at Georgetown University Medical Center.

"There are some people worse off than me," Diaz said. "Everybody has to keep the faith. You have to keep your head up. I'm just asking for everybody's prayers and thoughts."

In the medical procedure Diaz is undergoing, he'll receive two rounds of very high-dose chemotherapy, followed each time by an injection of his own marrow.

On Tuesday, doctors began by extracting bone marrow from Diaz's hip bone and then froze the marrow to preserve it. On Thursday, he received high doses of chemotherapy, which doctors hope will kill the remaining cancer cells in his body, but which also will destroy his bone marrow. He'll receive another chemotherapy treatment every other day until next Thursday. A few days after this treatment, he will receive the transfusion of his stored marrow to provide his body with necessary white blood cells and platelets.

Doctors will wait four to five weeks, to see if the cancer responds, before repeating the procedure. The treatment was developed by two doctors at Indiana University Hospital. This is only the second time the treatment has been performed outside of that hospital.

"It feels like someone kicked me in the butt five times," Diaz said after the first stage of treatment. He's being kept in isolation to lessen the chance of infection.

"By mid-January I expect to be released from the hospital, safe and cured of this," Diaz said.

Diaz was a quarterback and wide receiver at Wilson and also was the statistician for football and for boys' and girls' basketball. In November, his alma mater won the District's West Division title in a game dedicated to him.

Among the fund-raisers held for him so far was a basketball game between a team of Washington Redskins and a squad of Channel 4 media personalities.

Diaz is looking forward to returning to Temple, where he is majoring in broadcast journalism. Because he's in isolation, he can receive only a few visitors.

"I watch TV, a lot of quiz shows; read, including plenty of football material. I'm a trivia buff. And I write," he said. "I'm kind of my old self, but much weaker. I'm used to being athletic. I would go from class to practice to working out."

Throughout this ordeal, Diaz said, "I've kept faith in the Lord," an outlook he attributes to the teachings of his mother. "We're best of friends. She worries about me a lot. I mock her when she cries, make her laugh. But I can still look in her eyes and see she is deeply hurt by this and worried constantly."

He and his mother are particularly close, he said, because he never knew his father and his only sibling, an older brother, died when Diaz was a year old.

Diaz admits to worrying sometimes, but says, "I put {my worries} behind me and always have a positive attitude.

"I look forward to finishing school, getting a degree. I really would like to play in some kind of professional league and hopefully, one day, have a talk show, be an anchor, take Tom Brokaw's place."

For now, there is an opponent to beat. Jan Barkley, a spokeswoman at Georgetown University Medical Center, said the double bone marrow treatment has been successful in only a few cases.

Said Barkley, "He wanted to take the chance. This is basically his chance at life."