Friday, March 16, 2012

Cancer motivates Lute pitcher

Despite testicular cancer diagnosis, junior prepares for comeback next season

By Justin Buchanan, Sports Editor

There are 32 players on the Pacific Lutheran baseball team’s roster, but only 31 players are listed.

Right-handed starting pitcher junior Max Beatty has been absent from the Lutes’ rotation this season while he undergoes chemotherapy treatments after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in December.

“I probably had one of my best baseball summers of my life just this last summer and had so much going into this upcoming year and was so pumped about it,” Beatty said. “Then all of sudden this happened, now it’s sidelined me for the whole season.”

Beatty was expected to have a big 2012 season after being ranked number one overall on Baseball America’s Top 100 Division III draft prospects.

Now, instead of celebrating the accomplishment, Beatty is using it as motivation.

“I heard that [being ranked number one] a week after I diagnosed, too, and I was going into it and I was like, ‘Oh man that is awesome, that is the most cool thing ever,’” Beatty said. “The only thing I can take out of it is how much more motivation can one have?”

Beatty is going through three week-long cycles of treatment. One week, Beatty receives treatment almost every day of the week for about six hours. The treatments make Beatty tired, so he relaxes by playing Skyrim and Madden with his brother, PLU alumnus Sam Beatty.

During Beatty’s two weeks off, he does what he can to keep active by playing basketball at the YMCA.

“I’ve been surprised, going into this I was thinking like, ‘oh chemo,’ it sounds like it’s going to be the worst thing of my life,’” Beatty said. “I’m not going to jinx it or complain or anything, but it’s been alright so far.”

Outside basketball, Beatty is keeping his arm in shape for next season. Beatty also said he hasn’t lost any weight from the chemotherapy.

“I’m just keeping my arm in shape, just throwing and playing catch with my brother and that’s all I pretty much can do,” Beatty said.

Despite these hardships, Beatty is keeping a positive outlook on life, with some assistance from his teammates and family.

The baseball players now wear Live Strong-like bracelets that read “Max Strength.”

“Our coach just gave us these after practice, they’re pretty cool to just keep remembering,” starting pitcher senior Nathan Eisenhauer said.

Beatty said he doesn’t mind the baldness that is a side effect of chemotherapy treatment and said he looks “pretty good” bald.

He admits to having some issues with his eyebrows, though.

“I thought my eyebrows were going to fall out so I took a razor and put a couple of lines through them, joking around, and they still haven’t fallen out,” Beatty said. “So now I look pretty goofy with two lines in my eyebrows.”

All Beatty’s teammates, except Eisenhauer, shaved their heads in support of Beatty.

Eisenhauer didn’t shave his head because Beatty said he was a fan of Eisenhauer’s puffy, curly hair.

“I just know he’s got that big old fro so that was a tough one to let go, so it’s alright if he didn’t want to cut that one off,” Beatty said. “He’s got some locks.”

Despite the fact that the team members miss Beatty, they have been learning from him.

“It’s tough for all of us to see a healthy young man come down with something out of the blue, when he wasn’t expecting it,” head coach Geoff Loomis said. “To see him come out to a game already is pretty inspiring to all of us.”

After treatment, Beatty plans on playing summer ball with the Corvallis Knights.

“I’ve already talked to the coach and he said that team one is already mine for the summer with the Corvallis Knights,” Beatty said. “That’s probably one of the best summer leagues in the nation, so one more good summer of that and hopefully things go right back on track to how they were.”

Beatty said he is thankful for all the support he has received and believes this experience will be valuable to his growth as a person.

“It was such an eye-opener, it just takes you and you don’t even know what to even think about it,” Beatty said. “But then I’ve just been going through it and you see all the support you have and see all the friends and family and everyone that loves you and it’s so supportive and it’s such a good thing and it’s something that ends up making you. I couldn’t be who I am without what I am going through right now.”