In 2009, during the summer heading into my senior year at Boston College, I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. There aren’t adequate words to describe the devastation I felt when I realized I would not touch a football field during that entire season. It was as if my whole world had been taken away from me. I was at the top of my game – a first team All-American. Running out of the Eagles’ tunnel was everything to me. Football was all I dreamed about; it was all I wanted.
The cancer was in my left femur bone, and would require fifty rounds of radiation over five weeks, five days a week; six months of chemotherapy; and a titanium rod implanted femur. One of the first people I told was my best friend Zack. I remember calling him on the phone and telling him that I had been diagnosed with cancer. His response was selfless. Zack always spent his summers at the shore, but he said to me during that call he wasn’t going to the shore this year and he was going to be with me at every treatment. And he was there, every morning.
What people sacrifice for other people is amazing. I will always be grateful for Zack. One of the biggest reasons I’m healthy is because he was there for me when I needed him. That’s why when Coach Coughlin asked me to be on the advisory board for the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, I couldn’t say no. His mission provides me the opportunity to give back and BE THERE for families when they have a child diagnosed with cancer.
Cancer hit me from out of nowhere and turned my life upside down, but I was fortunate enough to make it to the other side. That’s why I am not only taking Coach Coughlin’s pledge to BE THERE, but I am asking each of you to take the pledge, too. When parents are caring for a sick child, they need support and love to help see them through to the other side.
The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund offers that kind of support. Cancer treatment is expensive and families who are pouring all of their emotional focus and finances into co-pays, clinic visits, and the unexpected and unpredictable can come to Coach’s nonprofit and ask for help paying a water or electricity bill. But the assistance doesn’t end there. The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund places families with financial coaches so they get their finances back on track so the family is financially healthy when the child is better and ready to go to college and live out his or her dream.
Each of us has something to offer whether it’s taking time to buy a parent a cup of coffee and asking them how they’re doing, visiting a hospital and reading to pediatric cancer patients, or giving to organizations like the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund who walk the journey with cancer patients and their families from start to finish.
It doesn’t matter how tough you are. We all need support when cancer hits. This September, join Tom Coughlin’s team. Take the pledge to BE THERE.