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Tackle Cancer: Luke Bonte, St. Francis football

One year ago from right now, Luke Bonte wasn't battling on the field for St. Francis High School. Instead, this 16 year old was battling for his life.
Luke Bonte

ST. FRANCIS, Minn. - Sometimes, you never realize how much you love something until it's taken away. That something for number 34, is football.

One year ago from right now, Luke Bonte wasn't battling on the field for St. Francis High School.

Instead, this 16 year old was battling for his life.


After collapsing during August football practice in 2017, Luke was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. And it was serious.

"He had a mass in his chest it was pushing on his breathing tube on his trachea and if things didn't go well he could have choked to death," says Dr. Mike Richards, Minneapolis Children's Hospital.

Dr. Mike Richards and his team at Minneapolis Children's Hospital acted quickly.

And cancer, not football, became Luke's number one focus. And the disease took its toll.

"Getting out of bed was hard, standing up was hard, lifting my arms up was hard bringing up food to eat was hard just everything," says Luke.

"I think when you hear those four words your son has cancer, I believe when you go through that struggle in your life and it's your child it's something that will always be with you," says Amber Bonte, Luke's mom.

To say Luke's cancer fight has been all consuming is an understatement.

"If it isn't one thing, it's another going wrong," says Luke.

For 11 months, nothing but constant trips to the hospital for treatments, infusions, blood work and solving setbacks. This was his new norm. And Luke didn't like it one bit. But there was one thing that kept him going. One thing he loved the most and wanted back his senior year. Football.

"I knew that if he wanted to make this happen he was going to make it happen," says Amber.

Luke's cancer fight is far from over, but he's now in the maintenance stage of his treatment which means a window of opportunity.

But in order to make football happen again, he needed to spend the summer building up what cancer had torn down.

"One more step, one foot in front of the other and get it done," says Luke.

He was relentless and with each training session, he began to feel like himself again.

Which led to August 13th, 2018. He was back. Nearly a year to the day after he collapsed on this very field and ultimately began his cancer journey. Luke Bonte was back.

Not just a spectator, but as a senior football player.

"I felt so good about myself being able to come back and do it all, not miss one sprint or do anything like that," says Luke.

You can hear the pride in his voice. And see the joy on his face. Cancer is still his toughest opponent. But Luke is winning and inspiring others, including the man in charge of healing him.

"He gets it. I think he's thankful, (makes me cry a little bit) I think he's thankful he survived this, he's a survivor and I think his perspective on life is different," says Dr. Richards.

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