Strongsville cancer survivor among those honored during Sunday’s Browns game

Sports

CLEVELAND (WJW) —  FirstEnergy Stadium was filled with fans cheering on the Browns Sunday, but the NFL was cheering on local cancer survivors. That includes Strongsville’s 21-year-old Tim Tusick.

The NFL, the Cleveland Browns and the American Cancer Society have been working together to support the fight against cancer for the past 13 years. Sunday, the Browns hosted their annual Cancer Awareness Game as part of their commitment to the NFL’s “Crucial Catch: Intercept Cancer” campaign. At the game, University Hospitals cancer survivors were honored, including Tusick, who looks like your typical Browns fan, having a blast with family and friends in the Muni Lot.

What you can’t tell by looking at him is that he has already lived through a bigger fight than most.

“I signed my living will at 19 years old,” Tusick said. “It was right there.”

Tusick was a wrestler who was extremely healthy and focused on fitness. However in March 2019, while a student at Kent State University, his world came crashing down.

WJW photo

“I came back from winter break and I couldn’t walk to class, I couldn’t do pushups, I couldn’t’ do anything,” Tusick said. “I went to the ER and they said they didn’t know how I was alive. Four days later I was diagnosed with Leukemia.”

“It brought us to our knees and was the sickest feeling you could imagine,” said Timothy Tusick, Tim’s father. “We slept that night in the emergency room but we didn’t sleep at all. It puts a tremendous pit in your stomach.”

After being diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Tusick watched his appearance change immensely.

“I looked in the mirror and I had no muscle and I couldn’t do a push-up,” Tusick said. “All those years of hard work, I had a lot of pride and athleticism, and it was gone.”

The doctors told Tusick to rest but instead he did push-ups.

First he did one a day. Then ten a day. Then 100 a day.

“You can focus on what’s holding you back or you can focus on what you have left to give,” Tim said. “You can always control your attitude, consistency and patience.”

Tusick’s mental toughness and tenacity worked. He became cancer free in July, ending treatment a year earlier than he was supposed to.

“He never complained,” Tim’s father said. “He never whined and I think I really only saw him cry once.”

Sunday Tusick and his family were in the stands cheering on their favorite football team. He was one of a few cancer survivors from University Hospitals that was honored at the game.

The Tusicks say they were thrilled to be there in person, but were even happier to just be together.

As if surviving cancer wasn’t impressive enough, Tusick has gone on to raise nearly a million dollars for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. He ran 5Ks and sold wristbands to help raise the money.

Tusick says he’s so thankful to his family and friends and the incredible doctors and nurses at University Hospitals. He also has advice for anyone going through the fight he went through.

“You have to focus on what you can control,” Tusick said. “Every day wake up and smile because you woke up and that alone is enough. If you can focus on that keep going and don’t give up.”

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