UAB men’s basketball player beats cancer — ‘God has a purpose for me’
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) on Tuesday released inspiring news about one of the institution’s student athletes.
In a release, UAB shared the story of men’s basketball player Luis Hurtado beating cancer.
After experiencing pain in his lower back and subsequently abdominal discomfort, Hurtado last year went in for a checkup. The diagnosis? Testicular cancer.
Hurtado was in shock.
“At this age, it’s like, why is this happening to you? You don’t understand,” he said, thinking back on that emotional day. “I just was crying because, at the time, I didn’t know what was going on.”
However, attending UAB, he had access to the world-class medical care found at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center. A UAB team of doctors got to work, and in June 2019, Hurtado celebrated his last chemotherapy treatment.
When basketball season resumed, he was back out on the court, working to get his fitness level back.
Dr. Heath Hale, medical director and head team physician for UAB Athletics, advised that Hurtado faced cancer, and its aftermath, like a champion.
“This was a grind with a lot of unknowns,” Hale remarked of the treatment and recovery. “He faced it with courage and just remained steady. He never seemed to lose hope and always displayed a lot of character that proved to be and continues to be such an inspiration to us all.”
“I got this text of him playing basketball that Dr. Hale sent me. Like, ‘Here he is back at it,’” added Dr. Mollie deShazo, associate professor of medicine in the UAB Division of Hematology-Oncology and the doctor who supervised Hurtado’s chemotherapy treatment. “It’s rewarding as a physician to think, ‘He’s come a long way, and look at him now.’ He’s such a great person, such a role model.”
Supported by others and buoyed by his faith, Hurtado’s hard work paid off.
“That was awesome, how much people really bought into my recovery and bought into ‘He’s going to be well. He’s going to be back to himself again,’” he commented.
Per UAB, Hurtado played his first game since defeating cancer on November 20 against Mt. Saint Mary’s.
He made his first shot attempt in that game, a three-pointer with the shot clock expiring. That moment was a powerful one for Hurtado, who fought back tears.
“I wanted to call a time out and cry and sit on the bench for the rest of the game,” Hurtado reminisced. “The shot goes in, and it’s like, like God has a purpose for me, and I was so thankful for the opportunity.”
UAB men’s basketball coach Rob Ehsan noted, “When the ball left his hand, I knew it was in.”
“You talk about just a moment from up above. I talked to the team about that, like this is how life works. You fight. You do the right thing in life, and good things happen to you,” he concluded.
Watch more about Hurtado’s story:
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn