HEADstrong Hero Ben Libby Is Hopeful For Normalcy Following Cancer Remission
By: Jennifer Hoffman
“Anyone who is involved in the lacrosse community knows of HEADstrong in some way. I didn’t understand when I was younger. I just saw the green lax heads and thought it was cool. As I went through high school I understood more and more, thought it was cool but never thought I would need to get involved,” said 21-year-old Ben Libby from San Antonio, Texas.
Ben’s need to get involved with the HEADstrong Foundation would soon become more than just rocking the lime green laces and HEADstrong gear. He would need the Foundation to become part of his support system when he was diagnosed with cancer in November of 2019.
The junior attackman at Southwestern University was living the life of a normal college lacrosse player: going to practice, weight lifting sessions, classes and otherwise enjoying his time away at college. With the rigorous athletics and academics expectations, Ben did not give much thought when he occasionally felt run down or tired. He was, after all, a student athlete and assumed that the recent turn in energy levels was related to his demanding schedule.
“One Sunday night at 3:00am I woke up with searing pains like someone was stabbing me with a burning hot knife. In hindsight I probably had symptoms for a year but that was my first time realizing I had something wrong,” Ben recalled.
Two days later he had surgery at Dell Seton Hospital where he was officially diagnosed with Undifferentiated Embryonal Sarcoma of the Liver. While the warning signs were subtle, Ben needed to have a four and half pound tumor removed from his liver. The cancer is exceedingly rare, with only four cases diagnosed each year, typically found in children between the ages of 6-10 years old.
“I did intense chemotherapy for four and a half months. The disease is so rare that doctors don’t know much about it. They developed a treatment right away and haven’t veered off from it,” Ben said. He wrapped up his treatment on May 11th, 2020 and has been in remission since.
Throughout his treatment Ben’s Southwestern lacrosse teammates were by his side every step of the way. Offering support through visits at the hospital and sending calls, texts and face times of encouragement. Not only did his team rally around him, but HEADstrong joined in on the efforts too. Ben was the recipient of a financial assistance check in December of 2019 to help offset the enormous medical costs that a cancer patient endures throughout their treatment.
Ben took the spring semester off at Southwestern and has been at home for the last 8 months. He is excited to get back on campus and into the classroom (virtually of course) where he studies Communications. Being a cancer survivor and recently in remission he understands how important it is to practice social distancing, wearing a mask and ensure proper hygiene etiquette.
“The school has done a lot to try and make sure everyone stays as safe as possible. Mandatory masks, regular testing, arrows pointing the way to walk into buildings, staggered start and end times for classes to alleviate the amount of students in the buildings,” he said.
With his hopeful remission, Ben is excited to gain a sense of normalcy this fall, even if it means adhering to the new normal.