NFL linebacker Mark Herzlich details his battle with cancer
In 2009, Mark Herzlich was a star college linebacker focused on making it to the NFL. But when he was diagnosed with cancer, he was told he might never play football again. Three years later, Herzlich helped the New York Giants win Super Bowl XLVI. He shared his story on HuffPost Live.
Herzlich recalled the day he was diagnosed. "I remember I got a call. I was with my parents and we were in Wayne, Penn., and got sent to the oncology department. And we get there, trying to stay hopeful and I sit down in the waiting room, get called into the doctor's office and all of a sudden, four doctors walk in. And I was like, 'when you're in the oncology department, you want a nurse, intern' -- four doctors in white lab coats came in."
"They put the MRI up on the board and basically he told me right then and there, I had cancer, I would never play football again, and most likely, I'd be walking with a limp for the rest of my life. And right there, in that 25-second span, I went from, 'alright, my future's in the NFL. This is what I'm going to do' to now, 'what's my identity?'
He was diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer, Ewing's sarcoma, and credited his family, friends and doctors for supporting him during his treatments. "I went through six months of chemotherapy, I went through 50 cycles of radiation, I got a titanium rod drilled directly through the center of my femur, and basically was told, 'OK, now the cancer's gone.' And that whole process just left me wanting more."
But Herzlich did not give up on his dream of playing professional football. After receiving his diagnosis, he thought to himself, "'Look, I'm not going to let this define who I am. I'm not going to let being diagnosed with cancer ruin these dreams that I've started since I was 5 years old.' I walked downstairs, I looked my dad in the eye and I said, 'I'm going to be okay. I'm going to beat this cancer and I'm going to play football again.'"
And he did. In 2011, Herzlich was signed by the New York Giants.