Almost one month after arriving at the University of Houston on a baseball scholarship, my world turned upside down. Growing up as a baseball player, I had a lifelong dream to one day play collegiate and professional baseball. Those dreams began to change not long after I hit the practice field.
It all began when the lymph nodes in my neck began to swell, leaving me looking like a bulked-up linebacker in the NFL! The doctor on site at the University of Houston health clinic believed I had a case of mono; so, I went about my days pushing toward my goal to be the starting third baseman for U of H. Just two weeks later, on September 7, 2007, Dr. Zoann Dreyer of Texas Children’s Cancer Center diagnosed me with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
That September day completed changed my life. My goal from being starting third baseman shifted to one of surviving cancer. I began my journey of receiving chemotherapy and radiation that would continue for the next three-and-one-half years. The first year was the toughest to deal with. The frequent infusion of high potency chemotherapy caused my hair to fall out. I found myself wrapped up next to the toilet for hours every day. The physical abuse I received from the chemotherapy was terrible enough; but, the worst of it all was not being able to enjoy college while I watched my athletic aspirations fade away.
As time passed and my treatments began to slow down, my dream to be a collegiate athlete began turning into reality. The cancer went into remission. I began the “maintenance” phase of my treatments the summer after my freshmen year. The “maintenance” stage was set in place to make sure that no dormant cancer cells were in my body. I set a goal to be the starting third baseman on opening day of the 2009 Season. Nine months later: goal achieved! I started on opening day of the 2009 Season against Kansas State! It was definitely a great feeling to step between those white lines after everything I had been through.
The next couple years of my college baseball career were filled with a lot of ups and downs. It was very difficult at times to balance monthly chemotherapy with keeping up with classes and performing on the baseball field. The support from my family, team mates, coaches, and friends certainly made things a lot easier; but, my trek was a huge grind, both mentally and physically.
My college life didn’t play out exactly as I expected. My baseball career eventually came to an end. Still, having cancer went from being the most tragic thing in my life to becoming an amazing blessing. I have been a part of so many great things and met some of the most wonderful people throughout my journey, including my doctor, Dr. Dreyer. She was always there — throughout everything – and not just as my doctor, but as my friend as well.
It’s now May 2012 and I’ve been off treatment for a year and am still living cancer free!
I just graduated from the University of Houston summa cum laude, and landed a job with National Oilwell Varco. I begin in June as a member of its “Next-Gen Program,” where new university graduates are trained and developed for future leadership positions. I am looking forward to beginning the next chapter of my life. Who knows what will be in store for me next? Until then, I thank God everyday for where I am in life right now and for my circle of friends and family who were there for me the curve ball pitched to me as cancer.
My name is David Murphy, and I am a four-year survivor of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.