Endicott Lacrosse Player Will Levine Goes On Attack Against Cancer
Contact: Pat Colleluori
Email: [email protected]
(SOUTHBOROUGH, MA)–While rehabbing an injury sustained during training last fall, Endicott men’s lacrosse player Will Levine, a native of Southborough, MA, contracted a seasonal flu. The lingering cough well into the spring season prompted concern. The cough was originally misdiagnosed as post nasal drip and seasonal allergies, but when things intensified in late spring, Levine sought answers at UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, MA. On July 31st, 2020 Levine’s world was turned upside down when a CT scan revealed a mass in his chest and a diagnosis of Diffuse Large B-cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the same disease that affected HEADstrong founder Nicholas Colleluori. Due to the location of the cancerous mass, Levine was unable to have it surgically removed and is currently undergoing treatment.
“Life is like a game of poker, you are dealt the cards you are dealt, but it is all about how you play them. If you play it right, chips will accumulate regardless of cards. In this scenario, the cards are the uncontrollables of life and the chips are the goals and aspirations that you choose to achieve,” said Levine.
Upon learning of Will’s diagnosis, Endicott Men’s Lacrosse head coach Eric Hagarty reached out to the HEADstrong Foundation. The HEADstrong team was able to connect immediately with Levine and his family, offering guidance, support, resources and lending their firsthand experience with the disease. In addition, members of the Colleluori family have been mentoring the coaching staff at Endicott with ways to rally around Levine while keeping him a part of the program during his treatment.
“In talking with Will, I was shocked to see the similarities between his story and our own,” said Pat Colleluori, HEADstrong CDO and Nick’s Brother. “Almost every aspect from Will’s age and sports injury to the onset of allergy-like symptoms which prompted concern, to an original misdiagnosis, our stories are nearly identical. When Nick was fighting his cancer, it was peers like Haverford’s K.C. Peterson that provided much insight in terms of what to expect during treatment, as he was amidst treatment for Lymphoma when Nick was diagnosed. I saw how beneficial it was for Nick to have a fellow lacrosse player in his corner and so I pledged to take a very similar approach to helping Will navigate his cancer. Upon being put in touch, Will and I instantly connected and have been in close communication ever since. We’re proud to be in Will’s corner and hope that our shared experience will serve as a beneficial resource to help the Levine family navigate this situation.”
With 3 months down and 5 treatments in the books, Will’s medical team is optimistic, but he still has a long road ahead. The good thing is that Will is responding to the treatments and his tumor has already begun to shrink. Much like Colleluori, Levine is longing for the day that he can return to the playing field at Endicott College.
Levine’s optimism, positive attitude and enthusiasm is contagious. His maturity also mirrors that of HEADstrong founder Nicholas Colleluori. When asked to comment on what he has learned during this experience, he said.
“Over the last couple of years I have faced many hardships, so I wasn’t phased by this. It has helped me grow as a person and become stronger mentally. The four things that I have already learned through this process are the following:
- I know that negative thoughts will cross my mind (it’s inevitable) but it is all about keeping a positive outlook on life.
- I truly believe, “why be sad, when you can be happy?”
- There are plenty of things in life you can be thankful for. Just recognizing the moments that I enjoy the most have helped me gain a better understanding for who I am as a person.
- Cherish every second while working out or playing. Show a good effort towards everything. Not only is this on the field, but also extends to all facets of life. Through my 20 years of life I can not remember one moment where putting forth a good effort hasn’t given good results. Some things in life are uncontrollable, but if you try hard enough at something, things will get better.”
Will’s teammates have been playing a vital role in his fight against cancer. Between texts, emails and messages the team is in constant communication with him, which has provided Will with a great sense of normalcy amidst the circumstances. To show their solidarity and support of Will, the men’s lacrosse team has tossed their razors and are participating in Lacrosse Mustache Madness, a campaign that encourages awareness and fundraising through the donning of a mustache.
HEADstrong has named Will one of the campaigns honorary heroes and will be providing support through proceeds. To support the team and the HEADstrong Foundation’s initiative donate here: Endicott Men’s Lacrosse Fundraising Page
“I miss being around my teammates and friends. I even miss the early morning lifts and practices. I know that this process will be long but, I know I will emerge victorious,” said Levine.
Levine is actually 1 of 4 current NCAA men’s lacrosse players that the HEADstrong Foundation is helping navigate a battle against cancer. HEADstrong is playing their position by offering a myriad of support and services to these families amidst their health crisis with being back at school and reclaiming normalcy as their goal. Ironically, that too was Nick Colleluori’s goal.
About Lacrosse Mustache Madness:
Lacrosse Mustache Madness was created by former professional lacrosse player and UVA standout Ken Clausen, who was inspired to use his own facial hair to honor HEADstrong founder Nicholas “HEAD” Colleluori, an NCAA lacrosse player from Hofstra University who was terminally diagnosed with cancer in 2005. Colleluori’s public fight from the sidelines captivated the nation and from his hospital bed he created an organization focused on empowering student-athletes to improve lives affected by the disease. After enduring 14-months of treatment, Colleluori tossed his razor and grew a mustache in the last weeks of his life as an emotional buffer due to his declining physical appearance. In an uncontrollable situation, Colleluori’s mustache was a positive buffer and conversation starter which was also a way for him to feel “normal” again. To date, more than 14,000 collegiate student-athletes, representing more than 327 colleges and universities have participated in Lacrosse Mustache Madness. Additionally, the campaign has engaged more than 24,701 donors having raised more than $1,513,284.75 to support families overcome by cancer and fund nights at Nick’s House for families displaced in the pursuit of treatment.
Proceeds from the campaign will aid families overcome by cancer and underwrite nights at Nick’s House, a guest family home operated by the HEADstrong Foundation for families forced to travel in the pursuit of advanced cancer treatment and clinical trials.
Learn more about how you can use your mustache and facial hair to improve lives affected by cancer at www.LaxStacheMadness.com or www.HEADstrong.org.