Troy WR Chris Lewis Discusses Battle With Cancer – “I Was Just Lost”

    Troy WR Chris Lewis battled an apparent leg injury to lead the Trojans in receiving touchdowns. But after the season, the diagnosis was much scarier: cancer.

    Chris Lewis transferred to Troy last season after spending his freshman year at Kentucky. The move proved fruitful for both him and the Trojans, as he generated 735 receiving yards and a team-leading 10 touchdowns. However, following his breakout campaign, Lewis received devasting news: He had cancer.

    Troy WR Chris Lewis Reflects on Cancer Diagnosis

    Opening up about the Diagnosis with ESPN’s Pete Thamel, Lewis said that during the first few weeks of the season, he felt tightness behind his left knee. It got to the point where he struggled to bend it, so he met with the team doctor. Yet, fearing MRI results could end his season prematurely, he decided to delay the tests until after the campaign.

    Following Troy’s victory in the Sun Belt Championship, Lewis underwent an MRI, and doctors found a mass behind the knee. That alone is nerve-wracking, but the doctors’ final diagnosis after additional scans left Lewis at a loss for words: Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

    The mass was deemed an “aggressive malignant bone tumor” but wasn’t attached to the bone, which the doctors told Lewis was “the best news possible.” They produced a 10-week chemotherapy treatment plan in order to reduce the odds of the cancer spreading and potentially shrink the tumor.

    “I was just lost,” Lewis told Thamel. “How did that happen? I was lost for words. It was a lot of questions.”

    Lewis has received treatment near his hometown in Pleasant Grove, Alabama, and will undergo surgery on April 3. A GoFundMe was set up this week with a goal of $150,000 to help with his medical expenses.

    Surgery won’t be the end of Lewis’ cancer journey, as another round of chemotherapy will take place after. However, he hasn’t let the battle diminish his spirits. “If I can play, I’m playing,” Lewis said. “It just really depends on what kind of recovery I have and how long that I have to recover before the season. If they clear me right before the season, I may sit out so my body can be in the best condition. If I have some months to train and get my body ready, I’ll be out there.”

    Lewis averaged 23 yards per catch on 32 receptions last season, showcasing his premier big-play ability. Among those 32 catches were multiple highlight-reel plays, and with Jabre Barber gone, he’ll be the team’s No. 1 weapon when he returns to the field.

    And according to Lewis, he wasn’t able to run full speed last season, which should be a scary proposition for Sun Belt defenses. “It’s been a huge motivation for me, just going back and looking at what I did this season and me knowing I wasn’t at my full ability,” he said.

    “Me seeing that makes me want to go back out there and show everyone what I can do at 100%. I really couldn’t get in and out of routes. I wasn’t able to run full speed. Being 100% and showing everyone what I can do at 100%, that’s my biggest motivation.”

    Former head coach Jon Sumrall, who left to take the same position at Tulane, recruited Lewis while he was an assistant at Kentucky and sought his services when he moved to Troy, so he knows Lewis’ character. “If anyone can do it, it will be Chris,” he said of Lewis’ potential comeback to the field. “He’s tremendously smart, tough, and a competitive, gritty kid.”

    With assistance from his family, friends, teammates, coaches, Trojans supporters, and college football fans across the nation, Lewis will not only defeat his current opponent but return to the field debt-free. At 6’4″, he’s a towering presence. And as he’s demonstrated, he’s also an indomitable spirit — one cancer won’t have a chance against.

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