November 26th, 2010
12:17 PM ET
Each week in the Human Factor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces you to a survivor who has overcome tremendous odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. Be inspired by their successes, as we have been.
At the age of 11 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was thought to be fatal. Many doctors did not think I would survive, let alone walk, talk and live a normal life.
I was in a bed for three months including a week in a coma, which meant I lost the majority of muscle in my body. I had to go through rigorous rehabilitation to learn how to walk, talk, and do other daily tasks that appear to be so easy. Although it felt like forever to regain these abilities, I always maintained faith, determination, and a positive attitude.
At this time what was foremost on my mind was staying alive to see the next day and getting out of the hospital at some point. If I had the opportunity to relive this experience, I would not change a thing because it has made me the man I am today.
The main reasons I decided to play football were to inspire people and to prove that anything is possible. I want to teach people how to truly live without fear or regrets.
When deciding to play football, people told me that I could get seriously injured and that it would not be smart to put myself in harm’s way, but I wasn’t going to let such fears stop me from reaching my dreams.
I also did not want to live my life wondering how it might have been different if I had played football. I want to encourage people to reach their full potential in life and never stop reaching for their dreams.
There are thousands of kids my age and younger in the hospital fighting every day to stay alive. The kids that I came across in the hospital were as heroic and brave as any I have ever met. I consider myself blessed to have witnessed such courage and charisma for life in these kids. I am most proud to be able to say that I am one of them, that I have fought the same battle that they fight so courageously every single day.
It’s kids like these who inspire me to get back up after every play. To think that I may have inspired even one person as much as these kids have inspired me makes me feel like I have done my job. I’m not only playing football for myself; I’m playing for all the kids who have never had the chance to play due to illnesses.
If there is one thing that I would like for people to take from my story, it is to always keep a positive attitude and to continue to reach for their dreams regardless of any setbacks they may encounter.
Human Factor appears on "SGMD," 7:30 a.m. Saturday-Sunday
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About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.