From Gridiron To Cancer and Back...the Mark Herzlich Story

Shane PattonCorrespondent ISeptember 2, 2010

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - NOVEMBER 29:  Mark Herzlich #94 of the Boston College Eagles tries to get the crowd going in the third quarter against the Maryland Terrapins on November 29, 2008 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Boston College defeated Maryland 28-21.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Most people remember college as a fun and exciting time in their lives. Now, imagine your a good student and a starting football player in for the Boston College Eagles. Imagine being tagged as a future first round NFL draft pick. Now, imagine you've just been told you have cancer...

That's what Boston College linebacker, Mark Herzlich has been through. The diagnosis came on May 12th 2009. The tests on May 14th confirmed the cancer. Herzlich was told he had Ewing's sarcoma, a rare bone disease that often kills. In that moment, Mark Herzlich went from wearing a football jersey to wearing a hospital gown.

There was one bright spot on this sad and depressing day. From the moment they learned of the diagnosis, the Herzlich family had feared it was already too late to fight the cancer, but once they came to grips with what they were dealing with, they decided to find a way to battle it with their son.

And battle they did. This Saturday September 4th, Mark Herzlich will line up in his old familiar spot as the strongside linebacker for his beloved Boston Eagles. The senior linebacker had endured chemotherapy and radiation treatments in order to fight back against the cancer that had shocked and almost destroyed his body.

The 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year will be playing with a rod that was inserted into his left femur where the cancerous tumor was discovered just last May. Herzlich's conditioning will be the only thing keeping him from playing the entire game on Saturday September 4th.

Mark Herzlich's story is an amazing story of heart and character. Too many times we read about the spoiled athlete who expects to rule the campus and get away with everything under the sun.

Finally, there is an inspirational story of an athlete who is simply happy with his life and willing to give it everything he's got. No expectations, no excuses, no why me, just total enjoyment about the opportunity to rejoin his teammates back out on the field.