The world is a tough place people and on the football field kids learn how to overcome all that can be dished out. But even out there on that 100 yard lined battleground you wouldn’t expect to find the deadliest thing known to man. I am talking about Cancer.
But that is exactly what happened to Camas Papermaker Drew Clarkson; a 2014 Graduate who is also one of the premier linemen on the West Coast.
With offers from 6 schools including Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, and Cal everything from the onlookers perspective was going just “Ducky” for the 6’3″- 275 pound linemen. But after the celebration and 2012 season which took the Papermakers to the Tacoma Dome and a State Title shot something was wrong. Things were happening to Drew that should never happen to a 17 year old kid.
“I started having Pain and lots of it and just knew something was wrong,” said Clarkson. “I tried to man up and you know just overcome it… especially down there where it was happening.”
What was happening was Drew was having intense pain, swelling, and a myriad of other symptoms down in his testicles. An area that gives us our manhood but that all of us “real men” refuse to talk about or address. Thank God for Clarkson he did.
“When I felt a lump getting harder and harder on the right side I knew I was in trouble. It was hard to do of course but I told my parents and shortly thereafter we found out I had Stage 2 Testicular Cancer. That was hard to deal with but it was severe enough there was nothing to do but attack it.”
Immediately last March Drew and his Doctors did a surgery to remove the mass and began Chemotherapy. He went through 4 rounds of 3 week cycles of Chemo-therapy where his body was bombarded and all the cells both cancerous and non-cancerous were killed. His long flowing signature Thor-Like Hair fell out. He was under attack while he and his doctors attacked the potential killer.
“I would have one whole week of Chemo which lasted 6 hours a Day. Then I would have 2 weeks off and then right back to Chemo. My hair fell out, my white blood cells died, I had to be careful and wash my hands 24 hours a day. It was really tough,” Drew reflected. “And through all that I was working out trying to maintain my size and condition for Football. That part was tough because I had just no energy.”
Work Out? During Chemo and Surgery? That was the Warrior that inhabits the body of Drew Clarkson showing through– why he is a great person outside a game that we all love. The Champion people love when his helmet is on was in some real trouble and was not talking about it while he was going through it to very many people.
Today we are 2 weeks from the biggest season of his life and maybe the best Season Camas has ever had. The Papermakers, led by legendary Coach Jon Eagle, moved up from the 3A to the 4A last year and ran the table to a perfect season all the way to the Tacoma Dome where they fell to the Max Browne led Skyline Spartans. This year many feel the boys from Clark County, Washington are going to win it all.
“I am happy to say I am Cancer Free! We beat it and I am back up to 275 pounds and loving every moment,”said a thoughtful and energetic Drew.
Is he out of the woods? Not completely.
“Because this Cancer can spread and is connected to the lymph system there are after effects that we need to watch. For the next 5 years every 3 months we will monitor this and watch it. I might need to have a surgery to remove some fluid and some material from an area on my spine that while not Cancer is a potential risk. That decision will be after football is over I hope.”
With his Right Testicle gone and his health back to 100% the Cancer free student-athlete is striking a blow against Cancer and giving back too.
DREW CLARKSON’s MESSAGE:
“First of all all men between the ages of 15 and 35 are at risk. This is not a disease you can just “Man-Up” and beat. You have to check yourself and monitor what is happening because a lot of men die from this every year. So check your self and feel for lumps and look for swelling. This killer can take many forms and it is not always the same but you CAN NOT BE IN DENIAL! If something is even slightly wrong tell someone and get help. For me it got really bad really fast and I had to tell someone. That saved my life. If I had not have been in so much pain and had the lump I could have died. So this is a disease that exempts no one. You will not be spared if you do not get help. So Man-Up and Check-Em!”
Drew Clark’s Plan to Help:
“On September 6th we are Playing Jesuit at Doc Harris Stadium. That is a huge game and we are all looking forward to that one. More Importantly there is an Event Called “Everyone Walk” right after the game which is put on by Coach Dale Rule and that will be a chance to help raise awareness and money to help fight this cause. For my Senior Project I have the Purple Ribbon Project and am selling T-Shirts to Raise awareness about Testicular Cancer and help the Testicular Cancer Society. The information they are providing and Education helped save my life and I am going to give back to them and Teach and Educate on this issue as much as I can. So everyone that can Walk or Donate per mile to the event and please buy a T-Shirt. 100% of the Proceeds go to help this cause and I am so proud to be alive and here to help this happen!”
Lastly we had to ask Drew if this entire thing had changed his perspective and if so how?
“Yes for sure it has. I sat there and watched people in Chemo everyday for weeks on end. I knew I had a good shot to beat it. Most of them did not. I watched them fighting to the very end for one last breath. That made me grow up fast and become mature and realize most people gripe and complain about meaningless things. And of course it hit me that life really is a gift and is short and there are no guarantees. People do take things for granted and this experience more then anything made me so thankful for everything. I look at this whole Cancer thing as a gift in some ways as it has made me set my priorities straight. I am so thankful for every day I get. And to be at 100% health and able to play Football this year and in college make things all the better.”
Drew Thank You for sharing your story with the World and for fighting back. Football is a game where we learn lessons about life. There is no doubt that the Papermaker Family and your time there helped you survive this killer—this Cancer! Listen up Guys. Get the T-Shirt, Support the Cause! This man speaks the truth!
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