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Florida State pitcher throws energy behind fighting cancer

When Matt Myers woke up from the biopsy of his right knee in January, he asked his father one question.

 Did they get it all out?

 The answer was no. The Seminole junior had cancer.

 “I started tearing up a little bit,” Myers said. “I started crying a little bit, because no one wants to hear the news that they have cancer. It was definitely a blow, like if someone had hit me in the stomach.”

 Myers, one of Seminole’s top pitchers, noticed swelling in his knee during baseball conditioning in early January. Ten days, some X-rays, an MRI and a biopsy later, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.

 “He remains so positive, and he was just ready to fight,” Seminole coach Adam Bransfield said. “He wasn’t giving in. He wasn’t going to give an inch of ground, and he took that type of attitude of, ‘Hey, I’m rolling up my sleeves, and I’m going to fight.’ ”

 Said Myers’ mother, Mary: “He’s got a great attitude. He’s been an inspiration to everyone.”

 That inspiration was evident Tuesday night when the Seminoles held a head-shaving fundraiser in support of Myers before their game against Winter Springs. It was the first regular-season game that Myers attended this season.

 “I felt really happy to be back there, but it does make me pretty sad not to play,” said Myers, who will not play this year. “Not playing is like the worst feeling ever.”

 Myers has undergone chemotherapy at Shands Hospital in Gainesville in advance of surgery in April. He said doctors will take out cancer cells in his leg, replace the removed bone and probably insert a plate.

 If the doctors remove at least 90 percent of the cancer, Myers said his chemotherapy will end in August. If they take out less than that, Myers said his chemo treatments will last until October.

 For now, Myers gets around on crutches or a wheelchair.

 “I’m not too scared,” Myers said. “After the surgery, I will get to walk again so I am looking forward to that.”

 Teammates have been impressed by Myers.

 “Every time he comes out here, he gives it his all,” Seminole’s Josiah Candelaria said. “I would really, really, really like to see more kids like that. I’ve never seen someone so passionate about what he does, and the fact that he can’t do it, it hurts.”

 Myers, the youngest of four children, has played baseball since he was 4 years old. He made Seminole’s varsity team his sophomore year, and by the middle of the season, he had become one of the team’s starting pitchers.

 “He means everything (to the team). Right now, this season is dedicated to him,” Candelaria said. “Yeah, we work hard to win for our coach (Adam Bransfield), to win for ourselves, but in reality, this season is for him.”

 Besides the fundraiser Tuesday, which Bransfield said netted $515, other fundraisers are planned. A benefit concert is set from 4-8 p.m. on March 20 at the Route 46 Entertainment District (4316 W. State Rd. 46, Sanford), and Christo’s (107 W. First St., Sanford) will host a spaghetti dinner on April 3.

 Seminole is planning a movie night on the school’s baseball field, and the team has sold T-shirts.

 For details on fundraisers, contact Bransfield, adam—bransfield@scps.k12.fl.us.

 “This is definitely a team effort we’re going through,” Myers said. “They understand, and they all have my back the whole way.”

 Next year, Myers hopes to rejoin his teammates, cancer free. Someday, Myers plans to attend his dream school, Florida State. He’d like to work with computers or maybe sports medicine.

 Someday, he’d also like to pitch again.

 “Maybe that’s the most difficult part, finding out if I can play next year or not,” Myers said.

 Said Rod Fergerson, who coached Myers in the fall: “One of the things he told me was, ‘Coach, I will pitch again for you someday.’ I told him I’d hold a spot for him.”

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