Skiatook High School football player fighting to beat Hodgkin's disease

Thursday, September 9th 2004, 10:05 am

By: News On 6

High school football season is in full swing now. The News on 6's Rick Wells went to practice with the Skiatook Bulldogs and found a story that's about so much more than just football.

The Bulldogs are getting ready for Tulsa Edison. Andrew Tomlinson would have been the starting tailback; instead he's watching his senior season rush by in someone else's shoes. "It's hard to watch somebody else do it. Especially when you know you can do it better probably."

Last year as a junior he ran for 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns. His coach, Jarrett Hurt, says this year would have been even better. "He was set up to have a great senior season."

But I promised a story about more than just football. In July Andrew was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, it's a kind of cancer. Andrew’s mom, Kellie Tomlinson: “He thought he was having trouble with his asthma."

No one suspected cancer in an 18 year old athlete. Andrew’s dad, Roger Tomlinson: "Senior pediatrician comes in and tells us they found a mass in his chest, it was like, whoa." The chemotherapy started soon after that.

As his hair started to fall out something good happened, team mates and classmates cut their hair. His dad and little brother did too. Kellie: "I like it for right now.” The yellow Lance Armstrong Foundation bracelets are a reminder of what they're going through, and that it's a battle they can win. Roger: "This provides opportunities to communicate better with one another." And they do. Andrew’s brother, Aaron Tomlinson: "I love him to death. I couldn't ask for more."

So this has strengthened his family, it's brought him and his team mates closer. He comes to practice every day, fights off fatigue brought on by the chemo and has become an inspiration. Jarrett Hurt: "I love having Andrew out here everyday, he boosts my spirits."

His goal is to prove his doctors wrong and play before the season is over.

There are huge medical expenses associated with Andrew’s treatment and Friday night, before the football game, at the Skiatook Church of Christ, there is a benefit dinner and pie auction. It starts at 5 o'clock.

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