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5 Athletes that had Cancer and Overcame It

Cancer destroys the lives of even the most famous individuals. Athletes are no exception and with the news that 2000 Americans could be at risk of mesothelioma alone every year, according to, it should come as no surprise that a fair few athletes have had to overcome cancer during their careers.

Remember that 8.8 million people die from cancer every year, which makes it one of the deadliest illnesses. Here are some inspiring stories of athletes that overcame the odds and beat their cancer.

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong was a hero to all when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which spread to his brain, lungs, and abdomen in 1996. He would go on to win the most Tour De France titles of any human being. But his fame today comes not from his inspiring story but his disgrace as he has been stripped of all his major titles for doping.

Mario Lemieux

Some people know Mario Lemieux as the greatest hockey player ever. And he achieved great things with the Penguins when he announced he had cancer in the middle of the 1992 season. Yet he came back on the same day of his final chemo session and dragged his team into the play-offs with 17 immediate victories.

And his cancer was also combined with a chronic back problem that followed him throughout his entire career.

Jon Lester

Famous baseball player Jon Lester experienced anaplastic large cell lymphoma, which accounts for 4 percent of all cancers, during the 2007 baseball season. He was forced to undergo treatment throughout the first half of the season, but would return that same season to take the Boston Red Sox all the way to the play-offs.

And Lester took it all the way as the Red Sox would win the World Series that year.

Terry McCann

Terry McCann was a 1960 Olympic gold medalist in wrestling. But he was exposed to asbestos when he worked for two years in an oil refinery. 40 years after his gold medal he would be diagnosed with mesothelioma. Like most mesothelioma sufferers, it would eventually claim his life, but he would go on to be a critic of the asbestos industry.

And today we are 30 years removed from using asbestos in workplaces, homes, and schools because of athletes like McCann.

Josh Bidwell

Josh Bidwell is a former punter for the Green Bay Packers. However, he received nationwide attention in 1999 when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The cancer was so bad that he was forced to immediately take a hiatus from football and enter emergency surgery.

But Bidwell returned triumphantly the following year after successful surgery with a clean bill of health.

Final Thoughts on Athletes Who Overcame Cancer

It’s easy to think that athletes are invincible. But all forms of cancer have a way of humbling even the greatest of men. No matter who you are you can be inspired by these athletes to overcome your cancer.

Do you or someone you know have cancer?

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