MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A little over a week ago, Gopher football player Connor Cosgrove walked out of Amplatz Children’s Hospital cancer-free.
After a long fight with leukemia, Cosgrove had his last chemotherapy treatment on Dec. 13.
I tagged along for that final appointment.
“I could not sleep at all last night,” Cosgrove said, recalling the night before. “Normally it’s like, oh, I have to have chemo again. But now it’s like ‘I get to have chemo again!’ And I’m pretty excited about it.”
It was the day Cosgrove has been looking forward to for more than three years.
Since his diagnosis on Sept. 14, 2010, he gave up football, but became a leading voice for cancer causes and an all-around inspiration to countless people.
One day, a Hawaiian shirt arrived from his middle school baseball coach.
“He used to always wear this Hawaiian shirt at our baseball games, coaching third base,” Cosgrove said. “He told me…when the day came that I was no longer going through leukemia, I had his permission to walk out of the hospital in this shirt, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do today.”
Connor’s mom, Shelly, has flown in to be with him at every treatment, except two.
“There’s a real quietness between both of us on the way over there,” Cosgrove said. “Because we know what’s going to be coming when we get there.”
As he got closer to the hospital, Cosgrove began to realize how different this final appointment would be.
“This is the end,” his mom said. “I don’t know if it’s really sunk in.”
As a football player, Cosgrove is used to measuring success in numbers — catches, yards, wins. And when you’re a chemotherapy patient, you measure success in numbers too — cell counts, doses and days.
And after 1,185 days…there was the moment he’d waited so long for.
“There’s so many times when you just want to give up,” he said. “’Cause it seems like it would be so much easier.”
After the treatment (and the nausea that comes with it), Cosgrove hugged his mother and father.
He described the experience as a kind of goodbye.
“I’m saying goodbye with a bunch of people I love, and a bunch of people who saved my life,” he said. “Everyone in that hospital is a hero.”
For the majority of people in Cosgrove’s situation, their leukemia does not come back, hospital officials say.
“This has never been, like, an end to me,” Cosgrove said. “Just feels like the beginning of something that’s gonna be so much greater than these last few years were.”
Cosgrove will be monitored closely for the next five years. His immediate plans are to finish college and then dedicate his life to helping others through their cancer battles.