Boston College football fans aren’t the only ones anxiously awaiting Mark Herzlich’s return to Alumni Stadium this Saturday. Boston’s cancer community is also pulling for the linebacker, who was recovering from a rare form of bone cancer last season.
An unofficial spokesman for cancer research during his recovery, Herzlich has helped raise roughly $200,000 for Ewing’s sarcoma research.
“He has been incredibly courageous taking on the role of ‘That guy with cancer,’” said Whitney Downum, the community executive of development for Relay for Life. “He hasn’t shied away or holed up.”
Herzlich practiced this week after an unrelated foot injury kept him out during training camp.
BC will run onto the field for its opener against Weber State between two lines of pediatric cancer patients. It’s unclear how much Herzlich will play.
“We’re just hoping he does whatever he feels is right,” Downum said. “Of course we’d love to see him back out there.”
Herzlich said he’s received well wishes from all over. “I even got some Notre Dame fans saying ‘We’re rooting for you this year,’” he said.
“Some people don’t know me as football player at all because they’re only aware of my story with cancer, and some people who did see me play before never stopped thinking I was a good football player,” he said. “I don’t ever want either of those things to go away. I want to be Mark Herzlich, cancer survivor, and Mark Herzlich, All-American football player.”