Rick Monday Saves the American Flag


-David S.-

On April 26, 1975, two protesters rushed onto the field with an American flag during a Dodgers – Cubs game.  The two protesters stopped in center field and tried to light the flag on fire, which was soaked in lighter fluid.  The right fielder for the Chicago Cubs, Rick Monday, saw this happening.  He made a heroic move to charge toward the men. Luckily, the first match was blown out by the wind.  This gave Rick time to courageously save the American flag from being burned as a second match was being lit.  Even though this didn’t happen on the Fourth of July, this goes down as one of, if not, the most patriotic acts in sports history.  Well done Rick, well done. . .  Way to make America proud!

Way to make America proud Rick!

 

Pics from: www.reddit.com and writemarsh.blogspot.com559

Tweet me: @BleacherBoy10

 

 

You Play Ball Like A Girl…I Wish!


-David S.-

Sorry Ham, you need to find a new rip because 16-year-old female phenom, Melissa Mayeux, playing 2 years up on the French U-18 junior national baseball team is giving, “You play ball like a girl,” a whole new meaning.  The shortstop became the first woman on the MLB’s international  registration list.   This means that she is now eligible to be signed by an MLB team as an international prospect.  It is unlikely that she would be signed just because of how young she is.  If Melissa gets signed, it’s more probable it would come around when she’s 18.  She can definitely play! According to MLB Director of International Game Development, Mike McClellan, she has the talent to stick with the boys.  Just watch the video below!

Melissa’s dream is to play in the MLB, but mainly she just wants to play as long as she can at the highest possible level she can.  Her love for baseball could have come to an end when she was  15 because there is a rule from the French federation not allowing girls to play with boys past the age of 15.  She would then have to switch to softball, but Melissa loved baseball even more and wanted to keep playing baseball.  She was able to convince the president of the French federation to let her keep playing ball with the boys by writing him letters.  Look at where this is getting her now! Like I always say, persistence pays off!! As my sisters and mom often point out, women get the short end of the stick in sports in terms of support, funding, opportunities and salaries. This is such a cool story and I wish Melissa the best in her baseball career.  Hopefully, one day we will see her out at short in front of a crowd of 40,ooo.

Here is a great interview conducted by SB Nation Her true love of the game shines through.

 

How did you become interested in baseball? Through your family? How did your family pick up baseball?

I became interested in baseball because my older brother, Dylan, became passionate about the sport when he was five while passing by a field where a game was being played. I went to his practices with the club team for the city of Montigny-Le-Bretonneux (initials MLB!) and, at the age of three-and-a-half, fought with my mother to let me out of the stroller and let me practice with him. The game teaches great values, and my family quickly became passionate about it.

Do you also play typically “French” sports? Why baseball over those?

I don’t know if there is a typically “French” sport. Cycling? Maybe thèque, a distant ancestor to baseball. There is pretty much every sport imaginable in this country. But to have fun or at school, I don’t really play other sports other than baseball and softball. I manage pretty well at soccer, but baseball opened my eyes from the beginning. I didn’t really give much thought to other possibilities.

Is baseball viewed as a “boys” sports like it is in the United States?

In France, the rules are that between ages 12 and 15 girls must be steered towards softball. I think that separation goes back a long time, without any explanation or justification. I was lucky that the president of the Fédération Française de Baseball et Softball and my coaches noticed my potential, which gave me an exemption to play with the boys. Some were deeply opposed to those who just trying to let me pursue my dream. Little by little, the rules were eased back within our national federation, then at the European level. That said, baseball remains, essentially, a male sport.

Was it ever weird to be playing with boys, or has it always felt normal?

I have always liked and found it absolutely normal to play with and against boys. On the field, I’m no longer Melissa Mayeux: I become a baseball player like anyone else. Baseball runs in my veins. It’s the only thing that matters to me.

A lot of people here have already written how cool it is what you’re doing. Is the reaction similar in France? Are you aware that you’re generating attention overseas?

In France, baseball is still under-developed compared to football, rugby, judo, handball or cycling. Even reading newspapers, some still say, “Wait, we also play baseball in France?”, without knowing that the federation was created during the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris and even practiced in Paris since the end of the 19th century. That surprises many on this side of the Atlantic.

I know that it has generated a lot of debate in the United States, but I admit that it seems a little abstract. All I can say is that to be on the eligibility list is a step in the right direction. All the better if it can help this great sport and encourage people to play or help the federation or academy find sponsors for youth programs.

Do you think about being a symbol for women at all?

I’m hesitant to perceive myself as a symbol of anything. Not because of ego, but because I’m just a 16-year-old girl who is still going to high school and who is practicing a sport out of passion. I can easily understand some of the messages one might want to associate with my actions. I’m going forward because of my passion, and if I can help those who would like to take the same route, that would make me happy. I am aware that this could help change attitudes. And why not? I find that a lot of women are true warriors on the field, with minds of steel. Some women, like Eri Yoshida (the first female drafted by a Japanese professional team), who I met in Japan, or Justine Siegal (first woman to throw MLB batting practice and coach a men’s pro baseball team), who held a conference in Paris two years ago, are clearly symbols for me.

What are you goals? Simply play at a high level? Play in the World Baseball Classic?

Ultimately, my goal was that someone lets me play baseball for as long as possible. Today, when I achieve one goal, I create a new one. That’s how I function. I work hard each day at the baseball academy in Toulouse. I do the most that I can to keep getting better. It’s not easy to balance this daily discipline with my school work, especially while boarding very far from my parents. Fortunately, I have very attentive coaches and great friends. Baseball here is like a big family. To wear the colors of Team France during the next World Baseball Classic qualifier with Eric Gagné as manager, to play in MLB, to join a minor league team, all that seems so far … but it still makes me smile to think about it. If I could earn a scholarship at an American college or university after I finish high school, that would be awesome. When I stop playing, I would like it to be my personal decision and not because someone told me no.

Have you given thought to playing softball, or is it important to you to stick with baseball?

I am playing on the French softball team at the same time, and I enjoy that, too. We have a lot of fun. But all the same, I prefer the little ball.

You’re actually the second female baseball player to cause a lot of attention in the United States recently. Have you heard of Mo’ne Davis?

I heard about Mo’ne Davis’ performances through the news, and obviously I loved her story. I was really impressed, having been on the mound for so long. During that time, a lot of my friends told me “Look, you’re not alone!” and that idea was comforting. I can’t imagine one day getting that much media attention. I simply hope that a day will come that we no longer look at girls like extra-terrestrials.

Who is your favorite player? Favorite shortstop, past and present?

My favorite player is Derek Jeter. Well, it was. I’m having trouble with this answer since he retired. But if he has a little time now, I would love if he comes to France one day, to the Toulouse academy, to give us some advice. (Please, Captain!)

Who would you like to style your game after?

I’m not looking to imitate anyone. Each plays according to his style and his ability. I think the most important thing, is to be one’s self. What matters to me is to be confident on the diamond.

Do you follow MLB? How?

I follow a lot of the news on social networks and the site of MLB. When I was younger, I could pass hours on the Internet watching and breaking down videos on hitting and game techniques. I also watch TV when games are being retransmitted. It’s a real treat but it’s difficult with the time difference, especially when there is only one channel that broadcasts in France.

How do you feel about the designated hitter in the AL?

I have been a pitcher and I would never let someone hit in my place. I think that answers the question.

How do you feel about players who like to have fun on the field, like Yasiel Puig, against how many people think baseball should “traditionally” be played?

I’ve had the chance to meet and play with or against players from a lot of different places, to be trained by a lot of different coaches, and to go experience baseball in Japan or Cuba. I sincerely think there isn’t one right way to play baseball. Some make it a little more of a spectacle, add a little spice. Each culture appropriates the sport in its manner.

For now, we are sharing the influences of Americans, Canadians (a lot of Quebecois come to play in France), the Japanese (under the influence of Yoshio Yoshida — manager of the French national team from 1989-1995) and Latin Americans. It’s not simple but I’m convinced that if baseball continues to grow in France, we would be capable of developing our proper style of game, like we have, for example, with rugby.

The 3 P’s of Baseball: Patience, Persistence, and Paying Your Dues


-David S.-

This spring I was busy everyday with a brand new experience, division 1 high school baseball. In all my years playing baseball,  I would start at third base, bat somewhere in the middle of the lineup, and play the whole game.  High School baseball, however, would be something totally new and foreign to me.  After breaking my back last year, my initial goal was to make the team where many guys end up being cut. Mission accomplished – but it was bittersweet. Seeing 19 freshman and sophomores on the roster,  I knew instantly that playing time would be rough. I had two complete “studs” blocking me at my two positions, first and third.  They were older, stronger and simply better and deserved to be played ahead of me.  I recognized this and asked coach if I could move to the outfield, but he wanted to keep me where I was to develop me for next year.  As it turned out, I would not start this year and barely saw any playing time.  I learned how frustrating baseball can be when you are blocked by someone ahead of you.  Most importantly, I learned how to work through it with patience, persistence and paying my dues.

Patience/Paying Your Dues

Patience is vital to a ballplayer to stop frustration from creeping into your head if you are not seeing playing time. An opportunity has to come eventually for you to show what your worth.  No one wants to sit the bench, but you can’t sit and pout about it, and for God’s sake don’t have your mom complain to the coach.  You must simply understand that the person that is playing instead of you is better and it is not personal. You just have to accept it and pay your dues.  This is just another part of mentally handling the game in a way I have not experienced before.  Be patient and the time will come for you to prove yourself.  It may not be next game or the game after that.  It could very well be next year when your shot comes.  I know mine is next year because my coach came and shook my hand at the end of the season and said, “Next year will be your year Dave.”  While you are paying your dues on the bench take time to observe and learn more about the game.  Don’t sit and watch the game aimlessly. Analyze counts to predict the next pitch, understand the situation going on in the field and the possible outcomes so when you do get in a game you’ll know what to do.  Patience will pay off if you stay persistent.

Persistence

Once I realized that I wouldn’t be starting, I knew I would have to work extra hard.  This means, you go to practice every single day after school and bust your tail.  By practicing everyday, I have noticed that I have improved more this year than ever before without playing much.  In high school, I have noticed coaches value hustle and heart over anything else.  Show your coach how much you love the game by giving it your all. Get there early! Stay late! And work your hardest even when the coach isn’t looking.  Always sprint to anywhere you are going on the field.  Believe me, your coach will start to notice you more if you persistently hustle and work hard.  I could tell my coach saw hustle and heart in me because he took me off to the side multiple times to tell me that I was doing everything right and that he couldn’t get me in because of the stud in front of me who will be on Varsity next year.  You can be persistent in the off season by practicing and getting stronger.  In addition to playing ball all summer, I signed up to go to a weight lifting and conditioning camp  every day this summer to become stronger and be in the best shape I can possibly be in by next year.  There is no way I want to be beat out.  You need to work harder than your competiton.  I hope this time next year I am talking about how I won the starting job, hit dingers, and had a great season.  I would then credit my patience, persistence and smile, knowing that I paid my dues.

My Baseball Mom


-David S.-

I wrote this for my amazing BASEBALL MOM!!!  Love you! HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!

 

My Baseball Mom

 

 

She cleans out stains

 

AND fixes your pains

 

 

 

She cheers for a bomb

 

Everyone loves a baseball mom

 

 

 

She throws soft toss

 

Because She’s the boss

 

 

 

She can always find your cup

 

Because she knows what’s up

 

 

 

She can still even play

 

A baseball mom, YES WAY

 

 

 

You think your mom is better

 

But does she know a table setter

 

 

 

She’ll find your every lost sock

 

And knows the ump’s calls are a crock

 

 

 

She shows up all men

 

A baseball mom is a ten

 

 

 

When you’re in a horrid slump

 

They give you a perfect bump

 

 

 

A baseball mom knows the way

 

What else can you even say

 

 

 

She can calculate an average

 

While drinking her beverage

 

 

 

Have you ever seen her swing

 

A baseball mom is the king

 

 

 

Yes, a king, not a queen is what I say

 

Plays like one every day

 

 

 

She can mend a glove

 

What’s not to love

 

 

 

In the dugout she wants a kiss

 

This is someone you never diss

 

 

 

I love my baseball mom

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A-Rod Writes Like A Girl


 

-David S.-

He’s baaaacckkkkkk.  Alex Rodriguez, one of the most hated and dirtiest players in all of baseball is making yet ANOTHER return from a suspension due to steroid usage.  To try to steal our hearts he wrote us a little cliche apology/moving on letter-blah blah blah.  (Actions, Alex, speak volumes!)

 

(MLB.com)

I had only one thought after reading this; his handwriting looks like my sister’s.  I was definitely not the only one who thought it looks very feminine.  An expert of handwriting, Paula Sassi, analyzed it. Here is what she said:

“He writes like a girl.  Feminine writing is more rounded, with a lot of connections, which he has throughout this.  And a right slant.  Masculine writing tends to be more angled, straight up and down, maybe printed.  The capital ‘I’s’—that’s where you see the personal ego.  This is probably what gets him into trouble. He has a very strong-willed, independent ego. They’re so large, and printed. That’s the kind of capital ‘I’ where you say they’re very independent, and strong-willed.  In the second line, when he writes ‘mistakes,’ it’s interesting what occurs in that word, it has a cover on the ‘a,’ and it also happens in the fourth line, when he writes the word ‘situation,’ and both have to do with what happened.  Which is being very protective of personal information.  In his signature itself, where he writes ‘Alex,’ the circle around it, we call that a ‘magic circle of protection.’ So he’s covering his tush. You see it a lot in signatures.”

The expert even declared he writes like a girl!  You can even see his larger than life ego in his handwriting in the ‘I’s’ as she explains.  Additionally, my personal personality expert and relative psychiatrist, Grandpa Ray, says A-Rod’s upward slant is all about confident, successful – moving up-literally.  It’s all about him.  Is that even a surprise?  His ego is so large it jumps off the paper.  Even when A-Roid is trying to be sincere in his “magic circle of protection,” his selfish cockiness shows.  Showing his true colors without even knowing it.  As much as I dislike A-Rod, I wish him the best to get  control of his life.

Remembering The Negro Leagues


-David S.-

Sorry to have not posted in a little while.  I’ve been sooooooooo busy with the start of my high school freshman baseball preseason, strength and agility training, school, music lessons, and more.

In honor of Black History Month I found a great video I must share with you.  A very motivated teenager, named Cam Perron has been researching the  history of the Negro Leagues. This video is very interesting and inspiring as he has tracked down old ballplayers from the Negro Leagues and helped them receive some credit, notoriety, and in some cases, financial restitution that they deserved, but were denied.  Many of these players were sadly forgotten.  Learning more about the plight of these players has been eye opening.  We should all be grateful for the contributions made by these  brave athletes to the game of baseball.   It’s amazing to see them finally get some long overdue accolades! Enjoy!

#BrewersOnDeck And My Good Hair Day


-David S.-

One of my favorite days of the year came last Sunday, the Brewers fan festival, Brewers On Deck!    It’s the same feeling of waking up on Christmas morning as a five year old. That’s how excited I get for this.  It’s become a yearly tradition that I share with my dad.  This year was my favorite of all!

To help publicize, I made my own business cards!  I handed them out to every person I met.  I just became official….ohhhh yeaaa. Here’s one:

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Like the business cards? Craig Coshun, in the picture below did.  He was super friendly and so was former player, now announcer, Jerry Augustine.  I did not get a photo with Jerry, but he’s a regular guy, just like what he seems on T.V.  The voice of the Badgers, Matt Lepay was a fine gentlemen to meet as well.  I also want to give a shout out to Caitlin Moyer and the Social Media stage. Caitlin is the author of Cait Covers The Bases.  As busy as she was working the stage, she was extremely nice to me when I introduced myself and what I do.  Also, mega shout out to the author of, The Brewer Nation!  I met up with him and he gave me some well appreciated blogging advice!

 

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Matt Lepay!

 

Meeting Brewers announcer, Brian Anderson (below) was a bonus!  He was very sincere and genuine.  He showed a lot of interest in what I had to say.  We talked awhile about my blog, advice, and about my dream to either play, broadcast or write.  As soon as I talked about wanting to be a broadcaster, he told me, “You’re off to a great start kid.  You have your blog, plus you’ve got the hair already!” It’s all about the hair. ;)
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How do I look? Pretty legit, right? – Yeah, that’s me broadcasting!

I also played some ping pong with Brewers.  I took a beating that was humbling:) I blame my partner……lol2015/01/img_4485.jpg

Scooter Gennett is certainly the epitome of the eager, hungry to succeed, grateful to play, genuine baseball player kind of guy!!  Holy tobacco in his mouth though!  For your own health Scooter, please don’t chew!  He was a very humble, fun guy.  No wonder why all of Milwaukee loves Scooter.  Thanks for the SELFIE! BTW-If you get rid of the chew, I may be able to set you up with my older sister (5 ft. tall and “hot” according to my friends – you didn’t hear that from me).

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Scooter selfie!

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There’s nothing better than seeing professionals truly listen when I told them about this blog.  That’s exactly what Michael Blazek and Shane Peterson did!

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Shane Peterson and I!

 

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Michael Blazek!

Luis Sardinas and Hector Gomez looked like they were having the best of times.  They were super funny and goofy.  As soon I as i walked up to meet them, Luis said, “Ayyeeeee let me see your hair. Ayyyeeee let me see the line shaved. Nice, fresh bro.” Like I said, it’s all in the hair.

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Luis Sardinas, Hector Gomez, and I! “Ayyyyyeee Let me see your hair. Ayyyeeee let me see line. Nice fresh bro” -Sardinas

Like last year, I said Mike Fiers was the nicest Brewer to meet.  This was absolutely true again this year.  Even better, he remembered who I was and what I do.  He said something like “Oh yea! I know you. You’re the Bleacher Boy.”  You totally made my day Mr. Fiers! Stay the way you are!

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Mike Fiers remembered me! Is that hair envy I see in his eyes?

 

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Gerardo Parra!!! I’m only 14 with a lot of growing to do- This shows you don’t have to be huge to play ball!!

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Parra checkin out my sweet card.

Clint Coulter and Matt Clark were stand up men!  I love watching the two play and meeting them was fantastic!

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Clint Coulter and his slick hair do.

 

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Matt Clark was a stand up man!

O.K. So, this next pic is EPIC!!! The Brewers coaching staff getting a pic with Bleacher Boy  was hilarious! They were rattling off one liners left and right.  Mr. Narron (man wearing the Pharrel hat) kept asking me if I was going to write an article ripping about him and his hat.  Watch our Mr. Narron! ;) Ed Sedar (bottom left) kept counting down the picture times and had something awesome to say to every camera taking a pic.  You couldn’t understand half the stuff he was saying, but man he was funny.

 

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The coaching staff!

 

I finally got to meet pitcher, Kyle Lohse!  He’s a super cool and chill guy to talk to!  I got an autograph for my good friend, Kyle, since Lohse is like his favorite Brewer player! Kyle was psyched!2015/01/img_4552.jpg

 

 

 
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The most amazing part of the day was meeting the legend himself, Bob Uecker!! To add to it, Mark Attanasio, the owner of the Brewers was there to meet with Bob.  The OWNER!!!! I was just as excited and pumped as when my sister got One Direction tickets. I was thinking to myself, “OMG he said my name and Bleacher Boy!!! I can’t believe I’m talking to Uecker himself, the man’s voice I hear every night in the summer is talking to me.”  He might actually beat me on the hair thing……
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I had a voucher to meet Khris Davis but I saw a tiny kid and his dad go up to get a voucher for him, and they were turned away. The little kid looked like a huge fan of Davis. I saw his lip quiver and the sadness in his eyes.  I had to give him mine because I knew exactly what it felt like at the age to meet your favorite player or worse yet, not to meet him.  There has been no better moment at any Brewers On Deck then to see this little kid’s eyes light up when he got the chance to meet Davis.  I can’t imagine what it is like to see little kids look at you with such adornment. Maybe, I’ll see you next year Khris.

Brewers On Deck was once again a huge hit! I couldn’t have asked for anything better.  Thank you to the Brewers for showing your fans a great time on and off the field!!  Start the countdown to next year’s Brewers On Deck! In the mean time, spring training is right around the corner……..

 

 

 

Bleacher Boy at #BrewersOnDeck


-David S.-

On Sunday I will be attending the annual Brewers fan festival, Brewers On Deck!  If you would like to meet me please come and find me! Contact me through Twitter, @BleacherBoy10.  I will be wearing my Bleacher Boy jersey.  Looking forward to seeing you!???????????????????????????????

Flashback Friday: Where It All Started


-David S.-
Flashback to my first year playing baseball! Shoutout to Mr. Eric Christensen for being my first coach and fueling my passion for baseball!2015/01/img_4280.jpg

True Warriors: My Brother and Stuart Scott


-David S.-

There are many types of warriors on the field, the courts, and the baseball diamonds.  The real warriors are those who face the battle of cancer. In response to the recent passing of Stuart Scott, I would like to express my sympathy by sharing my personal experience with cancer and how it has affected my family.

I was sitting at the kitchen table one afternoon, in early October, 2005 drawing a picture.  My sister Delilah was at her friend’s house, my brother Zach went to a car show with friends, and my twin, Sophie, was home with me. The sun was shining, trying to add warmth to the crisp cool fall day.  And, there I sat, carefree, enjoying the pretty fall colors, drawing leaves with assorted crayons of red, yellow, and orange.  Then, my mother received a troubling phone call from one of Zach’s friends.  His friend, Nate, with a sickening worry in his voice told my mother that Zach was having intense pain in his groin and lower back.  He couldn’t even walk.  I saw my mom put down the phone, knowing something was wrong from the look on her face.  Even though I was only five years old, I could sense something wasn’t right.  That was when the darkness came.

As soon as Zach got home, my mother rushed outside.  I never actually saw Zach and that’s when I knew that it could be more serious.  She told me she had to take Zach to the hospital.  That’s when I flipped my picture over to draw something else.  I started to draw a picture for Zach of him in an ambulance.  I was hoping everything would be okay.

Looking back, I remember my mother telling me that she thought Zach may have just torn or popped something in his groin or lower back because he was a skater and may have fallen.  She thought some movement may have made it “out of whack.”  Zach had a slight pain for a little while before the car show day.  He even went to a chiropractor for some physical therapy.  This was a very reasonable and a logical thought.  She was very wrong and the darkness stayed.

Mom transported Zach from his friend’s car to our car and rushed him to the hospital.  There, they found a mass on one of Zach’s testicles.  My mom heard a vague comment about Lance Armstrong, but was confused. They wouldn’t tell her anything other than to come back the next morning to see a specialist.  They decided to do immediate surgery even without a biopsy.  A biopsy was too risky because there was a risk that trying to extract this suspicious mass would cause some cells to fall into the bloodstream.  If some cells fell into the bloodstream, it could spread throughout his body.

After surgery, the doctors reported to my parents that Zach had cancer for sure.  It was called testicular cancer.  They told her it was the most aggressive type of cancer cell.  The doctors did say that they believed that they extracted all of the cancer.  Zach was sent home and everything was thought to be okay.  They also found nothing in his blood cells to detect cancer.  They didn’t know Zach was “marker negative,” which means the cancer cells would not come up in blood tests.  My mother thought it was strange that he was just fine.  Maybe it was just the darkness, but she had a gut feeling that something was wrong.
Just to be sure, my mother wanted a second opinion.  She took Zach down to Rush hospital in Chicago.  The doctor they saw was a trained specialist in this field.  He worked under the doctor that treated the famous biker, Lance Armstrong, who also had testicular cancer.  After Zach was checked out, the doctors brought back terrible news.  The cancer had already spread to parts of his abdomen and lymph nodes. It would be awhile before the light and laughter would return to our home.

It’s so weird how life can literally change in an instant.  Before this, Zach was on top of the world.  He had just turned sixteen, had a girlfriend, got a driver’s license, and he got a sharp little sports car.   He had just started his junior year at Walden H.S.  Then it came all crashing down on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  The clouds and the darkness came in the form of cancer, an uninvited stranger in our home.  If left unchecked, the cancer would have progressed to the lungs and to the brain.  Zach again needed a very complicated and immediate surgery.  If my mother didn’t trust her gut and didn’t bring him in for a second opinion, the doctors said Zach would have died within six months to 2 years.

My mom and dad, understandably, had trouble dealing with the news.  They felt overwhelmed, depressed and shocked.  They couldn’t process and learn all the necessary information fast enough.  My sister, Delilah, was in fifth grade and adored Zach.  She was scared, but young enough to be a little clueless.  Sophie and I could sense something was wrong, but we were confused.  Cancer was like having an unwelcome stranger move in, where everyone is acting differently, and I tried to be on my best behavior. Sadness clouded our family.  We were scared that we didn’t know what was wrong.  There many hushed phone calls and sleepless nights for us all.  Zach was down mentally and physically, scared, exhausted, yet hopeful, and strong.  It was frustrating for him to have to rely on everyone else to do things for him.  Zach was used to being thought of as a good-looking guy and vanity wise, it began to hurt his ego.  He just wanted life to get back to normal.

In the surgery they removed all of the cancerous areas that were shown on the MRI’s.  Then, they ordered several treatments of chemotherapy to flush out all remaining cells.  He was out on a six month plan which was considered short, but still treacherous.  Chemotherapy is a variety of medicine that they put through an IV in your body to attack your cancer cells.  But in fact, it really is poison that kills the fastest growing cells in your body which include the lining of your mouth, your intestines, white blood cells, hair, nails, skin, and finally cancer cells.  So while you’re attacking cancer cells, you are attacking all of those other things.  A lot of people think chemotherapy is one thing, but each phase is different.  It’s specifically designed for each patient.  There is also some trial and error because too much can harm you and too little wouldn’t help at all.

Just when you think having cancer is bad enough, going through the chemotherapy results in devastating side effects.  When mom brought Zach to the chemotherapy section of the hospital she said it sucked the air out of her lungs and she couldn’t breathe.  Everyone around her looked like they were dying.  She realized Zach would look like this soon.  Zach lost his hair everywhere on his body.  He once said that you don’t realize how much you need you nose hair because when you bend over everything drains out. He laughed, a little bit of light broke through.  His hair follicles even hurt.  A vivid memory my mother still sadly tells me is when Zach was lying in the hospital bed and complained that his head hurt.  When he shifted, a huge chunk of his beautiful, black, thick hair was now part of the pillow and no longer a part of Zach.  It took my mother’s breath away and she was speechless as she started to tear up.  When Zach lost his hair I remember being terrified of him. Until then, the scars and gory stuff was buried beneath bandages and clothes.  Now, I could see the metamorphosis left behind by cancer.  Sunken, lifeless eyes and pale grey, hairless skin moved into my brother’s body. Zach was so weak, so sad that his little siblings, including myself, were scared of him.  He was frightened, not recognizing his own reflection in the mirror.

The darkness grew and black spots began to appear on his fingertips and toes.  It was the chemo burning his body from the inside out.  Also as a result of the chemo, Zach had painful ulcers in his mouth and intestines.  He experienced nausea and brain fog.  My mother tells me that one day Zach woke up screaming and peeing blood because of kidney stones caused by the chemotherapy.  To try to counteract some of the side effects they gave Zach steroids.  These at least provided some relief and gave Zach an appetite, but also resulted in a bloated look, further distorting his normal good looks. But Zach, my brother, my inspiration, was not going to be beat.

Glimmers of light started to appear and brighten our home and Zach’s spirits.  We were all going to battle to fight this!  Zach’s support from Walden was monumental.  Students and staff sent him well wishes and bought him a PSP video game to occupy his time at home. Many of his friends were always there for him.   At my grade school and church, St. Rita’s, we would pray for him every day.  We were fortunate to have many friends and family that helped make and deliver meals to our house.  The support and prayers from others helped us greatly as well. The doctors and nurses were amazing.  They all began to provide hope, and a light at the end of the tunnel that drove out the darkness.


About a year later, Zach was finally done with treatment.  It’s a bitter sweet, and somewhat fearful feeling that treatment is over.  It didn’t feel like an endgame, it felt like a waiting game to see if “it” comes back.   Zach wasn’t going to sit around and wait for anything, there was too much living to do. Zach went on to enjoy prom, graduate from high school and get a degree from Marquette University. He is happy, healthy, handsome again, and the bravest man I know.  And here I sit, nine years later, at the kitchen table, not drawing but typing. The sun is shining brightly, adding warmth to a glorious cool day.

“You beat cancer by HOW you live, WHY you live, and in the manner in which you live.”

-Stuart Scott

 

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