Yesterday Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner highlighted the four-year anniversary of the day he was deemed cancer-free.
He made the announcement via Tweet, writing: “Thank you God 4 years cancer free today…”
Thank you God 4 years cancer free today… Having cancer doesn’t define you, your mindset does. Keep fighting keep positive.. Saying a prayer for those who are still fighting during these times.. “ it started with hope” … 🙏🏽
— James Conner (@JamesConner_) May 23, 2020
It is welcome news for Conner and all Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Conner has been one of the most popular players since the Steelers drafted him out of the University of Pittsburgh in the third round of the 2017 draft. As a rookie, he was No.2 in jersey sales among all NFL players on the Dick’s Sporting Goods’ jersey report, with then-New England Patriots QB Tom Brady the only player ahead of him in the rankings.
Conner Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma While in College
In December 2015 Conner and his doctors announced that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that attacks the lymphatic system, this in the wake of a season-ending knee injury that he suffered in the Panthers’ opener that year.
At the time he was diagnosed he had “stage 2A” Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Conner—then 20-years-old—started chemotherapy within days of his announcement, going on to receive treatment every two weeks for six months.
On May 23, 2016, he announced that he was cancer-free.
On that same day, Pitt Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi stated in a school release how “[Conner] has inspired and touched so many people in how he has handled this challenge. James is an incredibly special person, and I’m not even thinking about his football ability when I say that. Everyone at Pitt feels blessed to know him and we are tremendously thankful for the wonderful news he received today.”
Conner went on to return to the field for the Panthers in 2016, rushing for more than a thousand yards and 16 touchdowns, which added to the Steelers’ interest in Conner, who were already well-acquainted with him, as the Steelers and Panthers share facilities.
Conner flashed ability during his rookie year with the Steelers in 2017, and then broke out in a big way in 2018, rushing for 973 yards and adding 497 receiving yards on the way to 13 total touchdowns, earning him Pro Bowl honors.
Injuries limited his production to 715 total yards in 2019, but he hopes to return to form this season, as does QB Ben Roethlisberger, who continues to rehabilitate from an injury of his own. Conner headlines a group of running backs that also includes second-year man Benny Snell Jr. and third-year runner Jaylen Samuels.
Coming Soon: Fear Is a Choice
While he continues his preparations for the 2020 season, Conner will also be taking time out to promote his forthcoming memoir, Fear is a Choice: Tackling Life’s Challenges with Dignity, Faith, and Determination, which will be published by Harper on June 16. In the book, Conner shares his experiences and offers the personal principles that got him through his darkest days and catapulted him into the National Football League.
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