Monday, July 23, 2007

Welcome Back, Jon Lester

On the surface, this would seem to be about a baseball player coming back off the disabled list and playing in the Major Leagues again. But it's so much more than that.

Eleven months ago to the very date (Aug 23, 2006) Boston Red rookie pitcher Jon Lester walked off the mound in California in a game against the Angels. Lester had been wracked up pretty badly in a game versus the Yankees five days earlier in Fenway Park. It was revealed shortly after the Yankee game that Lester had been involved in a minor traffic accident on the way to the ballpark. He was still OK enough to pitch against the Angels and even won that game. However when he realized that the post-accident pain in his lower back wasn't going away he went for some tests and found out some devastating news - he had cancer.

When you're 22 years old as Jon Lester was at the time, you tend to have a feeling of invincibility. It's the nature of being in your early 20's. And though the doctors told him it was a treatable form of anaplastic large cell lymphoma when you hear someone tell you that you have cancer, your entire world changes.

It's an insidious disease that sooner or later touches everyone of us. You may be battling cancer yourself at this moment. I lost a very close friend in early May to lung cancer. Three members of my immediate family have all successfully beaten cancer.

Tonight in Cleveland, 11 months to the date of his last Major League appearance, Jon Lester will take the mound for the Red Sox once again. For anyone who is fighting cancer, take a moment today to rejoice because Jon Lester is living proof that cancer can be beaten. This really isn't about baseball. It's about life.

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