By: Olivia Wile
Getting to go home for Thanksgiving last year was not the only thing out of the ordinary for University of Findlay football player Corey Crawford.
After receiving the unexpected news that he would not be traveling with his team to face Assumption College in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs, Crawford felt blessed to be home for the holiday. Things took another turn, however, when he found out his severe stomach pains were the result of testicular cancer.
“On Thanksgiving I didn’t feel very good,” said Crawford. “I had a lot of stomach pains and so I went to the hospital, they did a CAT scan and said ‘well you have either two things, you have a really bad infection or you have cancer.”
His oncologist revealed that Crawford did in fact have testicular cancer. Just a UF sophomore at the time, he went right into four weeks of chemotherapy, cycling five days of treatment and 14 off.
“Me and my parents just kind of looked at each other,” said Crawford about when he got the news. “We didn’t even cry. We were just so shocked.”
Crawford says he fell into the five percent of the population that is not cured after their first round of chemo.
“Usually, with my type of cancer, the curative rate after the first dose is 95 percent. I was part of the five percent, so I had to do more chemo, a stronger dose, down in Columbus at the James (Cancer Hospital),” explained Crawford. “It was a lot stronger this time, it pretty much wiped me out.”
This time, however, the treatment was a success. After surgically removing 39 lymph nodes, the doctors finally had good news.
“I remember my surgeon coming into the room and saying, ‘I was expecting good news, but not this good of news,’” said Crawford.
In light of the good news, the UF football team asked Crawford if they could honor him during their home game on Saturday, Oct. 27. A portion of proceeds from the game were donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital as well.
In an interview released by the Findlay Athletic Department, Head Football Coach Rob Keys explained how the team planned to celebrate their teammate.
“We’re so excited about this news here in Oiler Nation and we’re going to honor him by him representing us as a team captain and also with all of our players wearing his number, 56, on the side of their helmets,” said Keys.
Crawford says he had no idea his teammates were going to wear his number during the game and was overwhelmed by all of their support.
“They were all embracing me and hugging me, telling me they were so happy to hear the news,” said Crawford. “It was amazing, it truly was amazing.”
Crawford explains this support went beyond the football field. Being from the small town of Wapakoneta, Ohio, he says both his town and the entire Oiler Nation have been cheering him on during the battle.
“With a small town everyone knows you, so people were always reaching out to me, sending me cards, or asking me how I’m doing,” said Crawford. “It was really similar to people at Findlay. I would get random texts throughout the day and people asking how I was doing, it was amazing.”
After receiving word two weeks ago that his athlete is cancer free, Keys says if anyone could win the battle against the disease, it’s Crawford.
“(He) was in for a fight that is much tougher than any fight he’ll face on the field,” said Keys. “But I know the kind of guy Corey is, and I knew he was going to take it head on.”
Crawford has been taking online classes this semester and plans to return to Findlay for the spring 2019 semester. After the weekend of the football game, he is even more excited to be back with his teammates.
“I didn’t realize how much I missed it,” said Crawford. “Especially after being back with the guys.”