CNN.com ran a nice piece a couple of days ago written by Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox pitcher and lymphoma survivor. The piece highlights Lester's charity, NVRQT, which stands for "Never Quit"; the group focuses on pediatric cancer -- supporting research AND supporting kids with cancer.
I am, of course, a Boston native, and a life-long Red Sox fan, so Lester has played a pretty big role in my cancer life.
Lester was diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma in 2006. It's an aggressive NHL, and he went through some heavy duty chemo, returning to the Sox in 2007, and pitching in the decisive game 4 of their World Series victory that year.
I was diagnosed a few months later. When we broke the news to the kids, I had my arms around my boys. My oldest was the one who best understood was was going on with me, and I told him he'd heard of NHL before, reminding him about Jon Lester. When he heard Lester's name, his whole body relaxed in my arms. He knew things were going to be OK. Of course, Lester had a very different type of Lymphoma that I have, but that didn't matter. What mattered was that he became a kind of symbol for us of someone who overcame this.
About 4 months after I was diagnosed, Lester threw a no-hitter. I turned on the game in the 8th inning and saw that Lester was three outs away from the no-no. I got my son out of bed, and we watched Lester finish it up. Needless to say, it was a pretty big day in our house.
And, of course, I wore my Jon Lester shirt for every one of my Rituxan appointments.It's still my lucky shirt when I need one.
Lester's not having a great year on the mound, and there is once again talk of trading him in the next couple of weeks. If that happens, I'll be pretty bummed. But it doesn't mean I won't get myself a new shirt.