We met Giants football star Mark Herzlich when he was in Manhattan recently. We think Mark is one special person. He plays linebacker and tight end for the team, but even more, he is a bone cancer survivor and is the national ambassador for the third annual Great Cycle Challenge USA (GreatCycleChallenge.com)
We talked to Mark about his cancer, but not before we did a little research on it. The cancer cells are found in the bone cells of the human body. Some symptoms can cause pain in the bone area and also swelling. Also your bones can break without a reason. You might have unexplained weight loss. People can mostly experience this pain in the back joints and bones. You will also constantly have a low fever, and symptoms related to nerve compression from tumor like numbness, tingling, or paralysis.
We asked Mark about being diagnosed with cancer. He said, “Ewing sarcoma is a very rare bone cancer, and I was diagnosed when I was 21 years old. I was a senior in Boston College. And it was a difficult diagnosis but was able to come back and play again.”
Mark now has a titanium rod in his leg, and we asked him about that. Mark said, “So, part of my treatment process, I had to do chemotherapy and radiation, and in order to stabilize my leg, they put a titanium rod down through my femur, and it’s actually been relatively unintrusive. It doesn’t go off in airports, and I don’t really notice it in terms of prohibiting my movement at all. So it’s been pretty easy, which is good. But I’ve seen the X-rays, so I know it’s there. I know that they didn’t just fake me out.”
We were curious about his biggest cancer fear. He said he feared that “I wasn’t going to be able to live a normal life. When I was first diagnosed, I really wanted to know when I’d be able to play football again. And really, they said I would not be able to play football again, initially. But then they said I would never be able to do physical activity. What I thought was, OK, am I going to be able to have kids? Am I going to be able to play with them in the backyard and stuff? So, maintaining a normal life is kind of the biggest fear.”
The Great Cycle Challenge is a bike ride throughout June to raise money and awareness for research on kids’ cancer. People set goals and try to reach them. The point is to work hard but also have fun! It’s called a race, but it’s not a race against other people, it’s a race against your goal of doing normal activities like people who don’t have cancer. This race started June 1, with thousands of riders across the country.
You can log your miles throughout the month in many different ways. One way is by downloading The Great Cycle Challenge USA app. This app is available on Android and iPhone. You can also use a GPS device such as Garmin. You can easily add your miles manually. Once you register, you receive your own profile page from which you can track your progress. Your page will display each of your bike rides, the total miles you’ve ridden and your progress toward your target.