Most of us in the course of our lives have known someone who has battled cancer. Perhaps we have lost someone to this terrible disease, or we have had a loved one who has fought it head-on and won.
Crestview Rebels senior linemen Dustin Gorby is a champion and he hasn’t even stepped onto the football field for a game yet. He has returned to play for the Rebels this fall after a year-long battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Last January, Dustin was in the midst of the Rebels wrestling season when he thought he had broken his ribs. He was having pain in his rib cage area and was also very pale and very tired. That is when his doctors started running numerous tests to see what the cause was and found the leukemia, a type of blood cancer. That was January 31 of 2012.
Dustin admitted that it scared him to get that kind of news. “Yeah, at first it did, but my doctors are really great, and they know what they’re doing, so I was alright.”
Following the diagnosis, Dustin was taking extensive chemotherapy a couple of times a week at Akron Children’s Hospital. Friends of the Gorby’s organized a fund-raiser that was held last March to help the family offset the cost of the treatments. Many community members, players, and coaches from around the area and ITCL attended in support of Dustin.
Dustin realizes that he has received a lot of support from family, friends, coaches, the community, and at home, his brother Dillon, who also played football with the Rebels. “Support, a lot of support, everyone is behind me,” Dustin said of his brother and family.
“It was a very tragic situation,” Rebels football coach Paul Cusick said. “Not just in our community, but players and coaches all around. They were great supporters. Our community is very close-knit and very supportive of each other.”
“With Dustin, it was that his older brother played, and Dustin played as a sophomore, so it was a situation where he has a great family, and it’s easy to support people like that. I think more than anything it shows what kind of family they are with all the support that they received,” Cusick added.
As far as this season, Dustin admits that it has been difficult getting back into football shape. “There’s always a little fear. Just losing a lot of muscle mass and everything, it’s been a lot tougher. I get tired quicker, but I usually push through it.”
“The ball’s in his court as far as what he can and can’t do,” Cusick said. “Physically he is kind of tore up from all the aggressive treatment and all, so his body needs to come back.”
“But more than anything, him being here is for the other guys. I know he’s here because he wants to be here and be part of it, but I think he gives strength to the other guys, too. It speaks volumes that he missed last year, but he was still elected a captain by his teammates, so he has to provide leadership. Guys can look at him and say ‘hey he went through some tough situations, maybe football’s not that big of a deal’.”
Right now Dustin’s leukemia is in remission, but he will continue to take chemotherapy once a month, and although he is not required, he is going to have his blood checked each week to make sure that his white blood cell counts are okay. Dustin will continue to have treatments for another year and a half to make sure his body does not have a relapse.
This Friday when the Crestview Rebels take the field at home against Beaver Local, they will welcome back a fighter, a leader, and a winner in Dustin Gorby. Whatever happens in the game is almost secondary.