Oklahoma Sooners Player Says Tackling Cancer Was ‘a Team Effort’
(NORMAN, Okla.) — Austin Woods, an offensive lineman for the Oklahoma Sooners, plays hard, whether it’s on the football field, in the classroom or tackling cancer.
“A lot of it is up here, between your ears,” Woods said, “you know, your attitude and the heart you have and just the mentality you attack every day with.”
During early spring practices, the 6-foot 4, 293-pound junior offensive lineman felt something wasn’t right.
“I thought it was mono. I didn’t know what it was,” he said.
In late April, Woods was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.
It seemed inevitable that he would be sidelined for the season while he underwent twice-monthly chemotherapy treatments, but Woods was determined to not let cancer get the best of him.
“One day, he’d miss a Monday practice because he was at the hospital getting chemotherapy, and then Tuesday he’d be out there on the practice field,” said coach Bob Stoops.
Despite the harsh rounds of chemotherapy, Woods continued to excel on the field and in the classroom, doing well enough to be named an academic All-American.
He posted updates and affirmations on his Twitter feed, all of them tagged #BeatCancer50, a reference to his number on the field.
His fellow offensive lineman supported him by tweeting back and shaving their heads in solidarity.
“It was my teammates, my coaches, my family and all my friends,” Woods said. “It was truly a team effort.”
Woods said he also took inspiration from his mother, Liz Woods, who didn’t miss a single day of work when she was treated for breast cancer 15 years ago.
In early October, Woods announced that his cancer was in remission.
“Done with chemo!!! Thanks everyone for all the support throughout all my treatments!” he tweeted.
On Friday, the junior offensive lineman fulfilled a lifelong dream to play in the Cotton Bowl Classic.
The Sooners lost to Texas A&M 41-13, but for Woods, it was a triumph after a tough year.
“It really taught me a lot about myself and what, you know, attitude and the right mentality can do towards overcoming obstacles in your life,” he said.
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