The Mustang football team and the Morningside community presented the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with a check for $2,200 from funds raised for "Fight Leukemia Day" that was held on Nov. 3 in conjunction with that day’s home football game against Concordia University.
The event was held in honor of Austin Granatowicz, a sophomore linebacker on the Mustangs’ football team from Firth, Neb., who was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) earlier this fall.
Members of the Morningside football team sold raffle tickets for an autographed football signed by the Mustang football team. Orange wristbands were also sold in the days leading up to the event. All proceeds were presented to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for research of the disease.
Doris Henry, a representative from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society office in Des Moines, Iowa, attended the game and spoke at halftime. Fans in attendance were encouraged to wear orange, the color associated with leukemia awareness. The Morningside football players wore orange colored spat shoe accessories and the Mustang coaches wore orange hats.
Granatowicz discovered he had CML after blood tests were done earlier this fall because injuries he suffered in a scrimmage and junior varsity game weren’t healing properly. CML is an uncommon type of cancer of the white blood cells that leads to an abnormal growth of white blood cells that multiply uncontrollably and crowd out all the other types of necessary blood cells.
Granatowicz, who is being treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, was originally prescribed oral chemotherapy to reduce his blood count levels so he could start regular treatments of Tasigna, a chemotherapy drug that targets a specific protein within cancer cells and stops the cells from growing.
“I just finished my oral chemo treatment a couple weeks ago,” Granatowicz said. “I had to take 12 pills a day for two weeks while I was on that. Now I’m taking two Tasigna pills in the morning and two more at night.”
Granatowicz, who is enrolled at Morningside as a full-time student and working towards degrees in chemistry and biology, said there haven’t been any side effects from the medication.
“As of right now, my appointments for seeing my oncologist in Omaha have been reduced from once a week to once every other week, and after a couple months it could drop to once every three weeks,” Granatowicz said.
Granatowicz said his treatments have been going well and that he eventually hopes to make a return to the football field.
“I had to stop playing football because my spleen is enlarged due to the abnormally high white blood cell count,” Granatowicz said. “As long as my spleen goes down and I react well with my medication, I should be able to return to football sometime next season.”
This June Granatowicz plans to do volunteer work for Camp Hope, located at Camp Aldrich near Claflin, Kan. Camp Hope, offered by the American Cancer Society, provides a place for children in treatment or remission to become kids again through the summer camp experience and to allow the children to see they are not alone in their struggle and provide peer support for everyone involved.