Arthur Ray has battled a cancer that most often results in its patients losing the afflicted limb, and he won. After that, the battles on the football field probably don’t seem quite as daunting anymore, but instead look like a gift from the heavens.

In 2007 Arthur Ray was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, an aggressive cancer and one of the most common childhood cancers. On that day, very few people would have ever expected Arthur Ray to play football for Michigan State. But those doubters didn’t include Arthur Ray. He fought until the tumor was gone, and then fought through a subsequent infection in the leg, until he was finally able to get back on the field as a Spartan this spring.

Arthur found out that he could play again shortly after the Capitol One Bowl in January. He recounted the story: “I called my doctor who works at Rush University in Chicago, and was like ‘Doc, what’s the word?’” Arthur continued, “He said, ‘I never expected to have this conversation with you. I knew your leg would heal and that you’d get to the point where you could walk and move around. But to play football, I’m not going to stand in your way.’” Arthur only had two words for the doctor, “Thank you.”

Now that he’s back on the field, Ray is a little surprised by how his leg is holding up. “This time off has been real good, and I feel like I’m strong enough. I’m not as sore as I thought I would be,” he said. “I thought I’d be crawling out of here after the first few days, but I’m standing tall so I feel good,” he laughed.

When he spoke about how he was progressing through the spring, Arthur compared the process to his continuing fight against his cancer the last four years. He said, “I’m just trying to take it one day at a time, if you think too far ahead that’s when you get frustrated. I’ve tried to control what I could and anything I couldn’t just let it go.” Wise advice from a young man who knows a thing to two about adversity.

The coaching staff is sharing in the excitement of having Arthur Ray back on the field as well. Coach Mark Dantonio said of Arthur’s return, “When you stand back and watch Arthur play you get a feeling that you can accomplish anything.” He then considered the message behind Arthur’s fight: “That’s the message to our football team and the general public, just keep working, keep believing and not just hope but your faith in what you believe will happen and great things can happen for you.” Coach Dantonio is right, and Arthur Ray should serve as an example for the entire Spartan football this season.

New offensive coordinator Dan Roushar is especially moved, considering his involvement with Ray throughout his cancer fight. “I was at one of his oncology meetings,” said Roushar, “I went to that meeting and I came back and talked to Jeff Monroe. That they reached out and found an expert through, I think, through the White Sox, and we were lucky enough to find an expert that dealt with it.” He continued, “As I look at it it’s just been remarkable as an entire family and him, you forget how long the process has been.”

His experiences with Arthur also gave him a perspective on cancer treatment. “I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of a meeting more depressed, and more determined to find the right people to help us,” he explained. “You get into health care you quickly find out what some people have and some don��€™t, and we were very lucky to find the very best in Chicago.”

But Roushar is still a coach, and he still has to evaluate Ray’s ability to play on the field, which can be tough for him to do at times. “I feel like his guardian away from home,” he explained, “So the drill work that we have done has been very controlled and in a very safe environment.” Despite this, Roushar is seeing some significant improvement in Ray from where he was not too long ago. “I just watched a video of him working out only a year ago, which his brother filmed, and it’s like night and day. If he can make that same growth … we’re talking about a guy who’s completely back.” Think about those words for a moment, “completely back.” It takes a true hero to return 100% from cancer to their every day lives, let alone to a sport as physically punishing as football. There is no doubt that Arthur Ray is a hero, and a beacon of hope for any cancer sufferers who are currently fighting the same way he did for the last four years.

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