Pittsburgh running back James Conner announced on Friday that he has been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
"When I heard those words -- 'You have cancer' -- I admit I was scared," Conner said. "But after thinking about it for a bit, I realized that fear is a choice. I choose to not fear cancer. I choose to fight it, and I will win."
Conner, who has missed most of the season with a knee injury, found out that he had cancer on Thanksgiving. At Friday's press conference, Dr. Stanley Marks of the UPMC CancerCenter said that Conner will begin chemotherapy on Tuesday and receive treatment twice a week for two months. He also said that the cure rate is 85-95 percent and is hopeful that Conner could return to the field next season.
"One year ago today I was asking myself, `Why me?' Why was I the lucky one to be getting the ACC Player of the Year award when I had so many teammates who deserved it as much as me?" Conner said. "Now one year later, instead of asking, 'Why me?' I am saying, 'Why not me?' I can beat cancer."
A 20-year-old junior, Conner rushed for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2014 and was named ACC Player of the Year, in addition to garnering All-America honors. Under new coach Pat Narduzzi, he was expected to be the focal point of the offense this season, but he tore his MCL during the Panthers' opening game against Youngstown State.
Now, Conner is preparing for a bigger fight with a positive outlook.
"I know there are so many people in the world who were told by their doctors this week that they also have cancer," Conner said. "I want them to know that together we can -- and will -- beat cancer.
"I will play football again. I will be at Heinz Field again. I have the best coaches and teammates in the country. I thank God I chose Pitt because now I also have the best doctors in the country, and together we will win. I know this city has my back."