Still a part of the team
Le Moyne baseball star, Pat Wiese has been thrown the curveball of his life. Yet, he says nothing is keeping him from supporting his team.
It was the diagnosis that would change his life.
Senior baseball star and team captain, Pat Wiese, sat in his father’s office at Orthopedics East on Brighton Hill after numerous MRIs to receive news that he had a tumor in his knee. He had bone cancer.
Last spring, during his third season with the Le Moyne baseball squad, he began noticing pains around his right knee. Over the summer, he struggled to make his knee feel better. After returning from playing ball in Vermont, his knee pains became something he couldn’t ignore any longer.
“For the next four weeks, it was just non-stop pain,” Wiese said. “I was still working out because it felt fine, but after it would be throbbing, so I figured I would get it checked out. I just figured there was something wrong with the bone or muscle.”
Wiese’s father, an orthopedic surgeon, called the family into the office after looking at the MRIs to determine the diagnosis. It took some time for the news to fully sink in for the Wiese family.
Wiese underwent surgery on Sept. 10, which led to the discovery that he would need a total knee replacement, and possibly a round of chemotherapy after his next surgery in early October.
The Wiese family sent scans to specialists in Florida, and even traveled to Boston to Beth Isreal Deaconness Medical Center, one of the highest-regarded hospitals for bone and joint cancer patients. Though, this wasn’t the best remedy for Wiese, a die-hard Yankees fan.
“My hospital was about two blocks away from Fenway Park, so I was just like, ‘take me somewhere else,’” Wiese said, laughing.
Despite all of the struggles Wiese has gone through these past few weeks, he finds love and support from his closest friends: the entire Le Moyne community.
“We originally figured we would keep the news within a small circle; but after I had told my close friends, I was receiving text messages, Facebook inboxes and Twitter notifications asking if I was okay,” Wiese said. “At that point, I decided that if everyone was already supporting me so soon, I might as well give them the news.”
And news travelled fast. Many students on campus knew about the diagnosis within a few days, thanks to Wiese and his Twitter account.
On Sept. 10, Wiese tweeted “It will touch my body but it won’t even come close to touching my mind, heart and soul #jimmyv thank you for all the support. I WILL BEAT IT.” This tweet was just the beginning of what would turn into an outpouring of support from the Le Moyne community and beyond.
But the biggest motivation to win this battle came from an article that he received from a former coach, John Sheedy.
“He sent me an email to read on Mark Herzlich, who was diagnosed with bone cancer in his leg at the age of 21, like myself,” Wiese said. “The doctors say he went through everything I have so far, and so I immediately found a new idol.”
Not only did Herzlich go through a similar experience as Wiese, but he worked his way back onto the field, and now plays as the linebacker for the New York Giants.
“That just kind of shook me and took me by surprise,” Wiese said about Herzlich’s journey and comeback. “This guy beat cancer and proved everyone wrong. He’s back on the field.”
Wiese even tweeted to Herzlich, who then replied with a simple, yet motivating tweet saying, “I’m thinking about you buddy and looking forward to seeing you kick this thing in the ass.”
“I was like, ‘holy cow.’ This guy reached out to me and he knows exactly what I’ve been going through,” Wiese said, smiling.
Herzlich is not the only professional athlete to reach out to Wiese during his struggles. Former Le Moyne baseball star and notable alumnus, Andy Parrino, a current player on the playoff-contending Oakland A’s, has sent his support in the form of text messages.
“Not a day goes by where I don’t get a text message from someone I don’t know saying, ‘Hey I’m thinking about you and keeping you in my prayers,’” Wiese said. “I’m getting a ton of emails and Twitter notifications. Everyone cares so much and they show that they care. I’m going to treat everyone like family, because they treat me like family.”
The family dynamic goes beyond the hallways, as several athletic teams on campus are working to create awareness and support for Wiese in any way that they can. The women’s soccer team dedicated their Upstate Challenge game to Wiese. The women’s volleyball team did the same for one of their recent matches. Sporting yellow ribbons and laces, these teams are rallying behind Wiese, and publicizing it on social media with the popular hashtags, #WinForWiese and #PlayForPat.
As for baseball, Wiese is expecting to sit this spring season out, though he insists this isn’t the end to his baseball career. Right after surgery, Wiese will be able to walk again, but his doctor says he will not be able to jog or run. Still, Wiese is keeping the baseball team close to his heart.
“They are my second family,” he said. “It’s going to be tough not being able to run out to the outfield for my senior year, but these guys are behind me. They’re going to play 110 percent, and they’re going to play for me, which I really appreciate. I will do whatever I can to help them out.”
With all that is going on in Wiese’s world, his motivation to overcome these obstacles has inspired students and his team. Twitter is blowing up with praise for him during this difficult time, while Wiese responds, inspiring others with his tweets of promise to getting better. He doesn’t worry about the future; he just knows that right now, he’s in the best community possible at Le Moyne.
“It’s tough because baseball was my one true love,” Wiese said. “I’m still a part of the team. No one will take that away from me.”