In 2007, Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson was fighting for his life after being diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma. Heading into his freshman year of college, Lampson beat cancer and overcame the physical toll extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment had on his body to emerge as one of top goalies in the Big Ten while playing collegiately at Ohio State.
"It was almost a two-year process to get back to a collegiate playing level," Lampson said. "I got up to about 270 pounds and had very low lung capacity and I had to work my way back. It was a gradual process. You get frustrated, but as long as you stick with it, you eventually get back in shape."
Now, almost six years later and entering his second year in Major League Soccer, Lampson is teaming with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to raise awareness for the deadly disease. Throughout the 2013 season, Lampson will wear custom-made lime green goalkeeper's gloves stamped with lime green ribbons, the symbol of lymphoma awareness.
"Having dealt with lymphoma myself, I felt a strong need to raise awareness," the 23-year-old netminder explained. "One of the biggest things that I want is to never have someone have to go through what I went through. Having dealt with it myself and seeing everyone that has gone through it and lost their lives from it, it's something that I think not everyone knows about."
"Obviously breast cancer awareness is big in October and everyone is behind that type of support, but the blood cancers and everything LLS supports is very important. This is one of my chances to raise awareness."
Like former hockey star Mario Lemieux before him, Lampson has returned from lymphoma treatments to maintain the physical rigors of being a professional athlete. Lampson's goal is to show children who have been diagnosed with blood cancer that not only can leukemia and lymphoma be beaten, patients can live a fully normal life afterward.
"I want the kids that were diagnosed at my age or even younger to look up and see what is possible with life after cancer because it's not over." Lampson said. "I think it's very important to show what can happen afterward, despite that happens physically to your body."
Furthermore, Lampson's mission is to honor and support a family friend who has recently felt the harsh effect of blood cancer.
"One of my very close family friends growing up, he recently had his mother pass away from a blood cancer," Lampson said. "Part of the reason I'm doing this is to give back to the Pappas family. I think it's really important for them to realize that there is always support available."