ST. PAUL, Minn. - This is what the cancer fight looks like and feels like up close and personal. It's a place 21-year-old Luke Hermann never thought he would be.
“A positive attitude is so important,“ said Hermann. “I can't let cancer beat me.”
Luke thought he would be on the football field this fall, playing linebacker for the University of St. Thomas football team.
But Hodgkin's Lymphoma sidelined him for his senior season. Heartbreaking for sure. But even more so when you understand Luke missed both his sophomore and junior football seasons because of injuries.
“I was there, yes, and there's nothing magical in life right?" said Tommies Head Coach Glenn Caruso about Hermann's first cancer treatment. “We're given a certain number of circumstances and we are to be judged on how we deal with those and he's dealt with every single one head on.”
That says a lot about Luke. He could have walked away from football after the first injury, certainly after the second. And most definitely now that cancer has blindsided his final season. But here he is on the sideline. That says a lot.
“I think it plays a huge part in getting through this," said Herman. "That's all I've heard from everybody who's gone through it, just try and stay positive.“
We caught Luke on a good day. No nausea. No migraine headaches. His cancer journey has already had its ups and downs and it's just getting started.
This double major in business is determined to live on campus, go to class and support his football brothers.
“He's trying to be the rock for us,“ said Luke's mother, Barb Hermann.
Luke's parents, Barb and Paul, are trying to find the perfect balance as they watch their youngest of five fight cancer and go to college.
“Nobody can take care of their child other than a Mom," she said. "That's very hard. I understand he needs to be at school, it's his senior year and wants to be with guys on team, wants to have normal experience. It's killing us. We're very close to the school, but it's hard.”
To make it more difficult, Luke's uncle, Karl, was lost to cancer last year.
“To this day, to say my son has cancer...I can hardly say that without tearing up," said Barb. "They're words you hope you never have to say.”
Luke's hair for the most part is gone, but not his sense of humor and that's a great thing. Because the road ahead will not be easy. His support system, however is amazing and his prognosis is good.
Hermann has proven he's not a quitter. Cancer? To Luke, it's just another bump in the road of life.
“Lord only gives the struggles to people he thinks can handle them. Luke is one of those young men who can handle it,“ said Caruso.
Tackle Cancer is an initiative started by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association. Money raised goes to the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund which supports cancer research and patient aid in Minnesota. The University of St. Thomas was the first college team to join the Tackle Cancer initiative.