Friday, August 14, 2015

Boston Red Sox Family Hit Again By Lymphoma: Manager John Farrell Diagnosed With This Increasingly Common Cancer

Red Sox skipper John Farrell - Boston.sportsthenandnow.com
The Boston Red Sox family has been hit yet again by lymphoma. Sox manager John Farrell stunned the baseball world today when he announced that he’s been diagnosed with "stage 1 lymphoma." We wish him well. 

Neither Farrell nor the team identified the specific type of lymphoma he is fighting. But the fact that his cancer is stage 1 and that Farrell describes it as "highly curable" is good news. 

"It’s localized. It’s highly curable and I am extremely fortunate to be with not only people with the Red Sox, but access to MGH [Massachusetts General Hospital] and all the world class talent that can handle this over at MGH,” said Farrell, 53, who led the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2013, his first year as skipper. "It’s been a surreal four or five days," he told reporters today. "I never had one symptom before the notification of it. No fatigue. No night sweats, loss of weight, obviously."

Red Sox Familiar With Lymphoma

The Red Sox family has been hit particularly hard by this disease over the years. My friend Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox CEO who just weeks ago announced he was stepping down after a remarkably successful run in which he led the team to three World Championships and should be a lock for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, is a survivor of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Larry talked openly and courageously about his cancer in our book Hope Begins in the Dark

Former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma, which is rare but also very treatable. Jon, who spent eight memorable years at Fenway Park and is now with the Chicago Cubs, naturally turned to Lucchino, who'd been diagnosed years before, for guidance.

Less than two years after he was told he had cancer and was treated, Lester won the final game of the 2007 World Series for the Red Sox, and in the following season pitched a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals. Jon is one of my personal heroes.

Lymphoma In The Sports World

All of this simply shows how common lymphoma really is. Just three days ago, Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders announced that he is being treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma, and his doctors consider it "very treatable and curable." His plans are to remain coach and team president while being treated.

As for Ferrell, he said the cancer diagnosis "has been a shocker. But I take a step back and I am extremely, extremely fortunate to have caught this at this stage."

Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo will reportedly assume Farrell’s duties as manager for the remainder of the season while Farrell undergoes treatment, which will begin on Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

On a personal note, I played baseball for much of my young life and into college. After I was diagnosed with stage IV non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at age 35, I never thought I'd be in another batter's box or stop another grounder. 

But after my second of four battles with lymphoma, I was able to play the game I love again, for several years, in a San Diego Adult Baseball League. 

I felt like a kid again when I stepped onto the diamond. And I'm confident Farrell, too, will return to the game he loves next Spring. The Red Sox family has demonstrated, repeatedly, that it is stronger and tougher than lymphoma.

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