Douglassville, Pa. (FOX 29) - A Douglassville will hit the mat with his high school wrestling team for the first time in nearly 2 years after a battle with cancer.
17-year-old Stephen Spitko has been practicing for a special wrestling match. On Friday, it will be his first in nearly two years with his Daniel Boone High School team.
"It was rough. I always wanted to get back on the mat but I knew I couldn't so it was a lot of stuff going on but I'm glad I'm back," he said. He battled cancer that took him out of the sport when he was 15 years old. He was no longer battling opponents in the gym he was in the fight of his life.
"There was a lot of chemotherapy I had to go through but I'm a lot better now. The dosages aren't as bad anymore. I still get it a little bit though." Stephen was first diagnosed with mononucleosis but his mom says they soon became worried that it was much more. In addition to being tired he developed swollen glands, had trouble breathing and doctors soon found a mass around his heart and lungs.
They said he had leukemia.
"You're in shock. Here he was so healthy," said his mom Lesley. He had chemotherapy at CHOP for about eight months which Lesley says put him in remission right away. Being cleared again to do the sport he's loved since kindergarten is a major breakthrough.
“I'm proud of him. I think every time he gets on the mat for the next probably two or three years I think I I'll get emotional every time for everything he's gone through," said his mom.
James Hogan is Stephen's coach.
“It was like a punch in the gut." But he says Stephen's determination to get back to wrestling is an inspiration to his team.
"You've fought your biggest battle of your life and you whooped it. This is going to be a cake walk now," said Coach Hogan. Stephen added, “I realize what I've overcame and I'm probably going to take that to wrestling too."
Stephen will hit the mat tomorrow in a tournament in Williamsport. As for the cancer if it doesn't come back in five years he'll be considered cancer free.