Dick Vitale Makes Tearful Return to Basketball After Leaving for Cancer Treatment

From Dick Vitale’s return to sportscasting after a brief pause for cancer treatment to a cancer survivor walking 3,000 miles cross-country, here’s what’s happening in the cancer landscape this week.

Dick Vitale made a tearful return to commentating after leaving for cancer treatment.

Last month, famed ESPN sportscaster Dick Vitale shared that he was diagnosed with lymphoma – his second cancer diagnosis in recent months – and would be undergoing treatment with steroids and six months of chemotherapy.

On Tuesday night, the former basketball coach, 82, made an emotional return to commentating.

“I didn’t want to cry,” Vitale said tearfully before the game began, according to CNN. “I can’t believe I’m sitting here. This is really a big thrill for me.”

Vitale was greeted warmly by fans as he arrived courtside to commentate at the Gonzaga-UCLA game at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. During the game, he was gifted with jerseys from both teams that read “Dickie V” and “Never Give Up.”

Before the game started, he tweeted, “To ALL of (you) in any battle 'Don't believe in can't!”

When Vitale received his prognosis last month, he explained that medical experts gave him the go-ahead to continue working through treatment.

A cancer survivor is walking across America to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer.

Cody O’Connor, 25, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma – a rare cancer type that affects a patient’s bones – at age 14.

“The doctor (told) me I would never walk normally again in my life,” he said to News4. “It took me probably 7-and-a-half years to actually get on my feet fully without my braces.”

Now, O’Connor is walking on foot from New York to California with a goal of raising money and awareness for pediatric cancer. He is just over halfway through his 3000-mile trip, most recently checking in at Oklahoma City.

He coined the trek the “Walk of Hope.” He hopes it will inspire others to not give up on their cancer journey and shine a light on the mental fortitude cancer treatment requires. He has also met several other cancer survivors along the way.

“The ones that are in driving distance we try to touch, others it’s virtual conversations, phone calls and being able to be in and build those communities so that kids know and people know they’re not fighting this illness alone,” he said. “There’s a big group of us out there.”

His final destination is Santa Monica Pier in California.

“Every day of my life, especially putting my body through something I’m not supposed to be able to do, I’m in pain,” O’Connor said. “But every kid that’s fighting is in pain and we’re not (going to) stop until we can inspire and help as many as we can.”

Former “Bachelorette” lead Hannah Brown shared that she had pancreatic cancer at age 11.

In a recently published memoir, former “Bachelorette” Hannah Brown explained that she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when she was 11 years old.

She had experienced frequent stomachaches and was given an MRI, which revealed an egg-sized tumor on her pancreas.

"They sent me for a biopsy, and a day or so later, my dad got a call with the results — not from our regular doctor, but from an oncologist," she wrote. "The tumor was malignant. Cancer. Pancreatic cancer — one of the deadliest forms of cancer there is."

Brown, who is now 27, had surgery to remove the tumor, which luckily had not spread outside of her pancreas. She also did not end up needing radiation or chemotherapy and has been cancer-free since the procedure.

"I had to go to checkups a few times a year or so after that," she said, "but nothing else ever turned up in my scans or in my bloodwork."

A breast cancer survivor wins bodybuilding competition after taking a break for treatment.

Erica Langley, a competitive bodybuilder, had to halt her training after discovering a lump in her breast in 2018. She found out that she had HER2-positive breast cancer in two areas of her left breast.

Langley received treatment at UChicago Medicine, where a team of health care providers created an aggressive treatment plan for her. She underwent 20 weeks of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, intravenous targeted therapy and reconstructive surgery.

She returned to the gym in November 2020 to resume her bodybuilding training.

“Mentally, I still really wanted to do this, but my body was struggling. After the first few workouts, I didn’t think I’d ever be competition-ready. So, I made up my mind that I was going to do this. I decided I wasn’t just going to survive cancer; I was going to thrive,” Langley told Because of Them We Can.

She entered two competitions in May 2021 and won multiple medals. She also placed first in one category.

“She knew she was going to get there, even if the journey was going to be difficult. The most important thing is that her cancer is treated and that she’s at decreased risk for another cancer. But she worked really hard to be even better than she was when she started this journey,” said reconstructive surgeon Dr. Rebecca Garza.

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