Cheers from the stands at one Texas football stadium are going to ring out for a student from the opposing school Friday night. Students, cheerleaders and the team’s mascot are supporting their friend, who is battling cancer.
16-year-old Layne Rodgers how has a strict policy about greetings: “No hugs, and no handshakes, just fist bumps,” he says. He relies on laughter as part of his recovery. His mother, Leann Perry, claims, “I think it truly is the best medicine”.
In May, Rodgers, who was Junior Varsity 1st baseman, for Caney Creek High School, started having pain in his knee. For months it would come and go, until a crushing September diagnosis
Perry states, “September 26th is when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer.” A month later, doctors amputated his right leg. “I’m not in pain.” That is the upside. “It was hard to watch my baby be in pain,” Perry says. With the right leg amputated, the unbearable pain is gone. He uses crutches to get around now. And while he hasn’t left home much since he got out of the hospital on Saturday, his story has spread.
A friend, Brendan Koch, adds, “This is bigger than football.” Under the Friday night lights as Layne’s school Caney Creek squares off against Splendora, cheerleaders from Splendora and its mascot, Willie the Wildcat, played by Brendan Koch, will be sporting T-shirts in support of Layne. Koch goes, “Except their will be more sparkly.”
It’s the least Brendan says he can do after Layne befriended him, the new kid back in 7th grade.
“It’s a really big deal, I haven’t forgot about it”, Koch states. Layne will be a special guest. His mother will be wearing a T-shirt too. He still has more chemo and surgery ahead of him but hopes to be back on the baseball field somehow next year.
His mother is looking forward to the game and crowd of support. “I think it’s going to be pretty incredible”.
Leann Perry/Mother: “I think it’s going to be pretty incredible.” “Sometimes we question, or he questions…well, we question why? And then I think why not him? I think the lord picked a pretty great kid to carry that burden just because of his strength.” Layne is currently battling cancer in his lungs.
Jessica Willey contributed to the report.