BY CHRIS STEELE AND MORGAN PORPORA
Wadsworth senior, Ben Beebe, had to change his outlook on life after a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
It all started with a sharp pain in his back; he never knew that a small checkup would change his life forever.
The pain became so severe that he was having restless nights during the week and he was struggling more than the average player to run during soccer fitness. On June 20, Wadsworth senior, Ben Beebe, went to the emergency room where he received many tests and was referred to an orthopedic doctor.
“It was absolutely horrible,” said Beebe. “We tried everything: ice, heat, physical therapy, stretching and walking. Nothing helped.”
In the upcoming days, he underwent even more tests. From these tests, they were able to conclude that he had approximately two liters of fluid inside of his lungs, which explained why it was extremely difficult to breath. Hoping for some insight of what was truly occurring, he was sent to Akron Children’s Hospital to receive a CT scan. The results of the CT scan came back revealing that Beebe had a tumor in his chest. The doctors had suspected that it was Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that begins in the lymphatic system.
“My first thought was if I would be able to play soccer again,” said Beebe. “They told me I would not be able to play unless the team went deep into the playoffs, then possibly I would have a chance. Once I found out I probably would not be able to play again, I was really sad for awhile, but my family was there to help me.”
These results not only affected Beebe, but also the members of his family and his friends.
“When my mom called me as I was driving, I thought I was going to crash because of how much I was crying,” said senior Kate Messam, Beebe’s cousin. “I cried for three days. After something like that I just could not function.”
Along with Messam, many of his other family members seemed shocked by this diagnosis and worried about how to get through it.
“My initial reaction was to focus on the treatment,” said his mother, Ann Hartman. “I thought about what I could do to get him through it. I tried not to not focus on the negatives or what he could be missing.”
His dad, Bill Beebe, also struggled to accept the diagnosis.
“As a parent, this is the last thing you want your kid to go through,” said his dad. “I wish I could have traded places with him. No one at that age should have to deal with something like that.”
The first step of treatment for Beebe included placing a port under his skin on the right side of his heart. The port allows the medical staff to extract fluids and pump chemotherapy drugs directly into the bloodstream. The port meant that he could not do anything that required physical contact, as rupturing the port could have fatal results.
“It was very difficult to watch as Ben went through treatments,” continued his mother. “As a parent, you try to protect your children and help them through their struggles. In this case, Ben had to take the lead and find the strength to get through it one day at a time. We obviously supported him in any way we could, and we tried to keep him healthy and happy throughout. His positive attitude helped all of us manage it better.”
Beebe was kept in the hospital for 11 days total. During this time, he received his first round of chemotherapy.
“The first round was not too rough. I didn’t really notice anything during the first part of the chemo,” said Beebe. “The more and more treatment I got, I started to feel more nauseous and then I’d start puking. During my good week, I would try to do as much as I could do and be as active as possible because I could not do anything after that week.”
In the following weeks, he spent most days lying around the house, doing everything he could to avoid a risk of an infection.
“I got the chance to see Ben when he was in the hospital,” said Beebe’s friend and teammate, Matt Flaker, 12. “I was thrilled to see him, but he looked exhausted. It was hard to see him hurting like that. He was not able to leave the house some weeks because of how much the chemo had drained him.”
Although he was at the lowest point in his life, he had no shortage of support. His family had over 700 bracelets made for students and family members to show their support. The bracelets contain words of encouragement such as, “No One Fights Alone” or “Hang in There Tough.”
“My family and friends were constantly at the hospital at the time of diagnosis and the days following,” said Beebe. “I received so many inspirational texts from multiple people. It was nice to know that so many people were rooting for me and cared.”
His friends always tried to be there when they could and get him through this hard time.
“The first time we visited was Saturday, June 22,” said Allison Kidd, 12. “We took four car loads of people. We brought posters, encouraging signs, necklaces and all kinds of things to hang up in the room. After that, people were visiting him every few days and if someone couldn’t make it that day, we would facetime them so they could still see and talk to Ben.”
Along with the support that came from his friends and family, Wadsworth High School’s boys and girls’ soccer program also became very supportive of Ben. Throughout the season, the boys program wore purple warm ups, the official awareness color of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, that stated “#BBEEBE STRONG” across the back. These shirts had the number two on the left sleeve, Ben’s number in previous seasons. Although he could not play, he would be announced before each game and if he was unable to attend the game, his jersey would hang above the bench to remind the boys to not take the game for granted, and to play to the best of their ability for their teammate.
“Before every game I would see his jersey hanging next to mine,” said senior captain, Connor Margo. “I knew that he would give anything to be in my position, and that is what motivated me to put my best foot forward and give it all I had.
Prior to the season starting, the boys’ team, along with Beebe’s friends and family, shaved their heads to show their support before Beebe began to lose his hair from his treatments.
While the boys had purple warm ups, the girls’ soccer team showed their support by wearing purple bows with Ben’s hashtag, “#BBEEBESTRONG,” and a piece of purple tape with the number two taped to their shin guards each game.
“We wanted to show that we were here for him through such a tough time for him and his family,” said Taylor Leatherman, 12. “It was important for us to show him that Wadsworth soccer is a family and that we care about him and had his back during this time.”
It was important to both the girls’ and boys’ soccer teams to show their support for their fellow teammate.
“I felt like I was truly a part of the team throughout the season,” said Bebee. “Every time I was with the team I got to feel normal for a bit. I am thankful for all that the girls team did, their support was amazing and made me feel stronger.”
Throughout the entire process, Beebe has learned a lot about himself and the life he lives.
“My mom and I both talked about how this should be the hardest thing I should ever have to go through,” said Beebe. “Now I know that the little things don’t matter as much because I went through something really hard and I am okay now. I learned to live every day like it was my last. I wish I could have done more things like replay my last soccer game and things like that because life would have been so different.”
This story was originally in our print edition. Check it out to see more stories https://issuu.com/wadsworthbruin