New Induction to the Pantheon of Badassery: Jon Lester
Jon Lester is a Washington State native who attended Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma, Washington. He achieved a three-time MVP and all-area in his high school career. Also, he was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2000 for Washington. All those stats pretty much give you a clue on why the Red Sox grabbed him in the First Year draft of 2002.
Achieving major success in the minor leagues, including a nod as the starting pitcher for the Eastern League All-Stars, he almost didn't stay in Boston. The Rangers wanted him as a part of a deal for A-Rod. Also, the Marlins tried to wrangle him away for Josh Beckett. We know how those deals went. After many of the starters for the Red Sox went lame, Lester was called up in June 2006 for the big show.
After over a month of solid starting, Lester started developing severe back pain. They put him on the DL to see if the condition got better. When the pain got worse during the road trip, Terry Francona sent Lester back to Boston. He asked the doctors to check him out. Lester thought a previous car crash was the cause. The doctors then told him, his lymph nodes were enlarged. Time to worry.
As the reports go: On August 31st, it was reported that Lester had been diagnosed with enlarged lymph nodes and was being tested for a variety of ailments, including forms of cancer. On September 1st, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital confirmed that Lester has a treatable form of anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
In December, the doctors tested him for any signs of cancer. The announcement: Lester was clean. Now after a wild ride of weight loss and chemotherapy, he's back for spring training. Oh, by the way, he started a game today.
Jon, welcome to the Pantheon. No fear anymore, man. You beat cancer, and after that, I don't think anyone else is going to intimidate you.