Something as simple as a heartfelt message of hope and love can have a profound impact.
It has for Tom Nugent.
Battling cancer for the second time in four years, Nugent, a 1990 Moeller grad who’s spent 22 years coaching lacrosse at Sycamore and Elder, said he felt lucky to have the local lacrosse community behind him, offering thoughts and prayers as he underwent his second surgical procedure for renal carcinoma.
“The lacrosse community as a whole is definitely one that gets behind the people that are a part of it and I really was so touched by everyone reaching out with everything that was going on with Matt Stratman and Lakota West,” said Nugent. “My situation is not great but their situation is totally different … I just felt really lucky.”
In January 2014, doctors discovered a malignant tumor on Nugent’s kidney, and he had a partial nephrectomy – “that’s when they take part of your kidney and they take the tumor.”
Nugent said there’s not a high reoccurrence rate, so when it did come back, “they decided not to full around and took the whole kidney.”
Nugent had a better idea of what to expect the second time around and he knew he’d rather recover at home, surrounded by his family, rather than in the hospital.
When he returned to his room about four hours after surgery, “I started walking cause that’s the quickest way for your body to kind of get awake and everything. I walked pretty much the whole night – I slept for about three hours – but I was discharged the next day around 3 p.m. because I wanted to get home. Being home and recovering is a heck of a lot better than being at the hospital.”
Nugent said today he’s feeling pretty good. The most noticeable difference is how quickly his energy depletes.
“I feel good and I can do stuff but I’m definitely slower about doing things and then I’ll just need to take a nap,” he said.
It’s in those moments of darkness and uncertainty when something as simple as a short note can be so uplifting. Nugent felt uplifted by the community he’s been a part of since he played on the first ever lacrosse team at Moeller in 1988, then went on to play at Ohio State.
“Luckily, I learned relatively early on that relationships, that’s really what the wins are about,” said Nugent, who this summer will be in a former player’s wedding. “You’re truly so blessed. For me, it was always fun to win games on the field because that’s what you come out to do but it’s the relationships you build.
“I really felt lucky and blessed that so many people reached out and were sending me their prayers and their thoughts because it was definitely scary. It still is scary. But to feel it from the lacrosse community is something that really helped me push through it and gave me the extra strength I needed that night.
“It was only a night which is so crazy cause my battle with cancer is so different than most people. I’ve had it two times – I’ve yet to see an oncologist because both of the times required surgery. We were very lucky both times when we caught the cancer. We caught it early and both times were flukes; they weren’t reasons for me to catch it.”