Those of us associated with Boston College in 2009 remember the day as much as we do any other in the history of the Eagles football team. The breaking news banner splashed across a number of different websites told the story, and it served as a sobering reminder about the frailty of life and how battles can change in the blink of an eye or an instant.
On that day in 2009, BC announced Mark Herzlich, the All-American linebacker and reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year, was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare disease affecting bone and soft tissue. We didn't know much about the disease, but as details surfaced, we became aware of one thing - if detected early enough, survival rates were pretty strong.
Everyone in the nation knows his story now. Herzlich defeated cancer, announced it with a release of Boston College emotion unlike any other on ESPN Gameday, then came back to captain the Eagles in 2010. Undrafted in the NFL Draft, he signed as a free agent with the New York Giants and became a reserve linebacker, special teams coverage wizard, and occasional starter on Sundays. He has a Super Bowl ring, emphasized by probably the greatest tweet of all time:
2 yrs ago I was told I might never walk again. Just WALKED off plane in Indy to play in The #SuperBowl. #TakeThatSh*tCancer,
Herzlich's fight inspired many at Boston College, but even as he's gone onto the NFL and the Super Bowl, we occasionally forget about the fight that so many others face around us. It's been well-publicized that Pete Frates is fighting ALS, and his very public fight serves as an inspiration belying any record on the field by Boston College baseball. More unknown to us, though, is the fight by former Boston College baseball student manager, Nick Modico.
Nick was also diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, the same cancer defeated by Mark Herzlich. Despite receiving treatment in New York City, the latest news describe efforts against the cancer as unsuccessful. Nick is now seeking treatment in Mexico in an effort exhaust all opportunities to prolong life and battle this insidious disease. As reported through a donation website, these costs are not covered by insurance.
Nick himself keeps a blog describing his fight against cancer (can be found by clicking here). Often times, we discuss BC athletics and the fight happening behind the scenes is something that we sometimes ignore. Despite a victory by our triumphant linebacker and proof that anyone can defeat cancer, the reality is that each individual has a different fight that's unto their own. Each fight with cancer, even if it's in the same person for an unfortunate second or third time, is unique. And each fight requires strength and fortitude that would make of us proud to call them an Eagle.
Please join all of us in the Boston College community in sending our thoughts and prayers to Nick as he battles cancer, and please join us in letting him know that he does not combat this alone. We are all Eagles, and we will all fight together.