If you are a singer, your biggest fear would probably be losing your voice. Same thing goes if you are an athlete, your body must be everything to you. If a sportsman’s physical system is not well, the game has to stop. But, here is a young athlete who gave up a part of his body and chose to end his career to save a sick man.
University of New Hampshire alum Cameron Lyle was set to take his chance to grab a gold medal in the Division 1 America East Conference championships and the Penn Relays, the oldest and most celebrated collegiate track and field competition in the country when he was told that he was a donor match for a young guy, who is suffering from a blood cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
When confronted by the fact that he had to decide whether to take his last shot for a gold medal or give it up and extend a man’s stay on earth, Cameron chose to save a life—a decision he described as a “no-brainer”.
Cameron recalls that he was still a sophomore when his buddies suggested that he take a swab test for Be the Match, a National Marrow Donor Program–operated project that is committed to organizing the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world. Cameron was told that there is a one in five million chance that he would be a match to any patient.
When he was informed months later, right before his scheduled game, that he matched one of the patients, Cameron thought no more.
“They said I was a possible match. And I admit it was kind of frightening for a few minutes, but I had made up my mind when I did the mouth swab and joined the registry that if it happened, I would donate. Otherwise, why bother registering?”
Cameron revealed that the hard part was to tell his coach, Jim Boulanger, that he would not be able to play. He was delighted that Boulanger was so supportive of his decision.
Boulanger revealed, “I remember he came to my office, closed the door, and said, ‘Coach, we need to talk. I’m a bone marrow match.’”
And, the coach responded to this with:
“Let’s see, 12 throws in Binghamton, or save a life? Do it. Donate. Sport is not bigger than life. Sport is part of life.”
While everyone was saying that Cam gave up just a little chance, his coach said otherwise. “It’s more than that. You give up championships. This was his shot, but he gave it up for the right reason.”
On April 25, Lyle underwent a marrow-harvesting surgery, which took an hour and fifteen minutes, way longer than the usual because the patient needed 1,800 CCs instead of the normal 5 or 10 cubic centimeters.
Christine Sciacca, mother of Cameron Lyle, expressed his gratitude to her son for making the right decision and said that she was so proud of him.
“You try to teach your kids certain things: Be kind. Don’t bully. Give. Take your manners out of your pocket and put ‘em in your mouth. And you always wonder if it sinks in. It did with Cam. He gets it. And when he told me what he was going to do, I could barely keep myself together I was so proud of him.”
Cameron did not regret his decision and was so glad, knowing that he added more years to a man’s life who was expected to live for only six months without the transplant. He added that he wanted to meet the man and was hoping he would be delighted to see him too.
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