When Lutheran's Ryan Dolan was diagnosed with cancer last month he knew right away he wanted to be on the bench with his teammates the next day.
"I might as well enjoy the time i do have without the chemo because it's just going to make me miserable." Ryan told me "This is what I want to do."
His head coach Tom Guse was happy to have him on the bench in part because, "It gave the opportunity for a lot of people who love him, this Rockford Lutheran family, to be there for him."
Ryan beat cancer when he was two years old. With the support of his teammates, who he calls brothers, he was getting ready to do it again when a miracle happened. Ryan and his dad Jim explain.
(The surgeon told us) "The tumor was benign. We had to ask him to say it again because we couldn't believe it," Jim says. "We immediately got up and went and saw Ryan in recovery. The first thing he did was look for the chemotherapy port that they were going to put in his chest."
"I looked down and it wasn't there. I thought i woke up early. I asked the nurse next to me and they were like we have some good news, it looks like it's benign and i just, i just lost my mind."
Teammate Thomas Kopelman went with the Dolans to the hospital. "The doctor came in and told him and everybody just broke down. It was a miracle. It was extremely emotional."
Coach Guse and the rest of the team were waiting for news after a practice. "We prayed as a team and then the news came that it wasn't cancer and you would have thought we won the state title. Everybody was hugging each other and jumping around."
During the worst week of Ryan's life he was overwhelmed with support.. The whole team wore special shirts to support him. Kopelman asked if he could wear his number. Across town former teammate Antoine Pittman came out in a Dolan shirt before the Auburn/Boylan matchup. That support got Ryan through the scare.
"I'd just like to say thank you to Rockford and the surrounding areas. Everyone was just amazing. Even after I found out it was benign everyone shared in my happiness. That was even more powerful for me."
After eight days in the hospital from a punctured lung he got out on Thursday. One day later he was back on the bench inspiring the crusaders to an overtime regional championship win.
"We really want to make this year memorable for him," Kopelman adds, "for all of us."
"They make me feel like I'm still a huge part of the team. That's very comforting to know and it's gotten me through a lot of this."
Lutheran plays Kaneland in sectionals tomorrow., Ryan will be there.