Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cancer-free Herzlich embraces his role

GREENSBORO -- After missing all of last season battling cancer, it would be enough just to see Mark Herzlich on the field again. Doctors told him he'd never run again, so merely putting on a helmet would mean the Boston College linebacker has far exceeded expectations.

That's not good enough for Herzlich.

"I'm pushing to get back to where I was," Herzlich said. "Settling for anything less, or even expecting anything less, it would make no sense to come out and play again."

The 22-year-old was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in his left femur last May but was declared cancer-free in September. Since then, he has openly embraced his role as an example and role model for cancer victims.

"It has been by choice," Herzlich said. "It's something I want to do. It wasn't forced on me. Besides football, this is what I want to base my life around."

One of his Boston College teammates, wide receiver Ryan Lindsey, started raising money for cancer research in the middle of last season, and by the end of the year contributions were pouring in from all over the football world -- from other ACC teams, officials, even commissioner John Swofford. All told, it totaled more than $220,000.

For Herzlich, it's just the beginning.

"It has changed my life already," Herzlich said. "I meet people I wouldn't otherwise have met, cancer patients and survivors and people who have lost people to cancer. You really see a whole different range of emotions."

-- Luke DeCock