In the world that is writing about high school sports, one may come across a variety of topics. They may include big games, superior performances, even teams that one should be paying attention to. There are always back stories regarding these topics, and most of the time they are pretty interesting to the casual reader. These are the type of articles that you HOPE people read.
Brunswick’s Josh Herron dreamed of those big performances on the basketball court and baseball field growing up. Playing both sports since he was a youngster, he became a really good player, all while awaiting his chance on the big stage at Brunswick High School. He would eventually get his chance his senior year.
What happened in between is the real story
It’s a story about tragedy and overcoming it. About dedication, will, and determination. About the effect it can have on a community, not just the individual. About not letting any obstacle stand in your way of your goals.
It’s not a story you HOPE people read, its a story that people NEED to read.
March 12, 2012 will be a day Josh and his family will never forget. After experiencing some pain in his leg, the family went to the hospital for an evaluation.
I just thought it was a bump, matter of fact, the initial doctors just thought it was an infection. Something I could have drained and be out a couple of weeks….Josh Herron
Josh was playing basketball in a Brunswick open gym, when he felt something in his leg. He was hoping it wasn’t serious. It was a fracture. Fractures can be healed as long as it was just a bone.
Well, it was serious. What it was, was a very rare form of bone cancer called Osteosarcoma.
Osteosarcoma is some nasty stuff. It is a cancer within the bones, and can grow without the person knowing it. Josh’s biopsy confirmed the presence of the cancer. When osteosarcoma, or any form of bone cancer is detected, it weakens the bone, and makes it much easier to fracture. If there was ever a “lucky break” it could have been this.
When I heard cancer, I was pretty shocked….Josh Herron
We all would be. Cancer is a terrible disease that no one should have to go through, especially a child. Speaking to Josh about the topic, he sounded much more mature than his years. It’s an attitude that is needed if you are going to fight the disease.
I was never scared, I never felt sorry for myself. I just accepted what had to be done…..Josh Herron
What had to be done was treatment. Anyone who knows anything about cancer treatment knows it’s no picnic. It means chemotherapy, and a lot of it. Seems pretty unfair for a child to go through it, doesn’t it? So chemotherapy it was. 20 weeks worth of treatments, sometimes with as many as five different drugs in the cocktail. With it comes the sickness, fatigue, and the known side effects. Again, Josh seemed to take all of it in stride:
I just slept most of the time….Josh Herron
Through all the sickness, fatigue, sleeping and other things that Josh’s body was going through, Josh always kept one thing in his dreams. One thing that kept him going, one thing that keeps people from a sprained ankle to osteosarcoma going:
It was always on my mind to get back and play….Josh Herron
Josh Herron loves sports. He had played them his whole life. He had formed bonds with the same group of kids playing basketball and summer baseball since he started playing. Imagine that, knowing every summer looking forward to playing with the same group of friends, and having that taken away from you. Missing his senior year of basketball was something that Josh just couldn’t do. The team was really good, and had a chance to be the best team in school history (Which they eventually would become). It was during his junior year, when Josh was acting as a student assistant, that he and head coach Joe Mackey came up with an idea.
If Josh was healthy enough, Coach Mackey would start him on Senior Night. Talk about something to shoot for. You know where this is going don’t you? Of course he was healthy enough!!
What happened before the starting lineups were announced is “Goosebump” stuff
How about a standing ovation that lasted for minutes? From the whole Brunswick fan section, including the famous “Mackey’s Maniacs” student section. It is something that even effected his parents:
To see the whole crowd with the ovation they gave, and the whole student section was amazing. The student section all stood, and spelled out JoshStrong, which is something I didn’t expect. It is a tribute to the kids, the coaches and the community as a whole….Paul Herron
What did Josh think of Senior Night?
The whole night is kind of a blur. It was unbelievable to hear the crowd and the student section. It was just nice to be out there with my fellow seniors and my good friends….Josh Herron
Josh’s basketball story obviously had a great deal of effect on his fellow students and members of the Brunswick community. As Coach Mackey puts it, it even kept the team playing at its best:
Although Josh didn’t score a point for us this season, the impact he had on our entire program is off the charts. We always emphasize the next game, but in the end, it’s just a GAME. Josh’s battle with cancer allowed our guys to really put things in perspective. Watching him deal with cancer and win was a huge inspiration for our team. He never backed down, stayed positive, and won. Something our team bought into all year long. Josh’s story touched the lives of not just our school, but the entire community….Varsity Basketball Coach Joe Mackey
It would be nice if the Josh Herron story ended there, wouldn’t it? Well, it doesn’t. Being ruled cancer free late in 2014, Josh was not only healthy enough to start on Senior Night for the basketball team, but then play BASEBALL this spring. Not only does he play, he pitches. Not only does he pitch, he pitches well. How about his second start of the season? Five shutout innings versus Elyria for his first win. Head Baseball Coach Tim Spatz sees the effect that Josh has on the team:
Josh has been a model student and teammate the last two years. No one appreciates their time on the field more then Josh. He has been more than a teammate, he has been a contributor. He deserves all the success he gets this year as well as next year at BW….Head Baseball Coach Tim Spatz
That’s right! Josh will be playing baseball next season at Baldwin-Wallace
What is Josh’s long term prognosis? As with any cancer, and the chance of it coming back, there is a risk. Fortunately, with Osteosarcoma, the longer in remission the better the odds:
Anytime someone with Osteosarcoma can make it past two years, there is a better prognosis, and we are coming up on that. We started having to do bone scans every two months. Now it is every four months, eventually it will be every six months….Paul Herron
The biggest thing Josh’s journey may do is give everyone a new perspective about life:
I think about Josh’s roommate in the hospital that was just finishing his chemotherapy treatments when Josh was starting his. How his cancer has now come back and spread. I think about a fellow Brunswick student, Cora Flemming, and how she eventually succumbed to the disease. It really makes you aware how precious life is….Paul Herron
Having the ability to play basketball is nice. Having the ability to play baseball is nice….Having the ability to have LIFE is the best
As the “Twitter-Verse” gathered people together for students to come to Senior Night, there was one tweet that may have said it all:
Come and see Josh Herron on Senior Night. The kid’s a G****** legend
Yep, he has earned it.
Everyone should learn to be as strong as Josh Herron