NY Sports Day
Andy Esposito

Esposito: From A Cancer Survivor, Alderson Will Pull Through

Cancer used to be an automatic death sentence. We know not now, and for that, all of baseball is grateful as it was announced yesterday that Mets GM Sandy Alderson has been diagnosed with a very treatable form of cancer and will be undergoing chemotherapy over the next 8-12 weeks to cure his affliction. Treatment has already begun.

At a holiday luncheon hosted by Mets officials at Citi Field on Friday, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon made the announcement and read from a prepared statement: “Sandy went in for a medical procedure three weeks ago. Surgery was performed at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, and as a result doctors confirmed that Sandy has cancer. The cancer is very treatable and (the doctors) are optimistic about a full recovery.”

Obviously a biopsy was analyzed and the disease was diagnosed. This perhaps explains Alderson’s sudden fainting spell at the Terry Collins managerial extension press conference on Nov. 4 (missing breakfast was the excuse at the time), and the explanation for why Alderson was not present at the GM Meetings just after that in Florida. He will also miss the upcoming Winter Meetings in Nashville but that will not preclude any involvement or decision-making.

“Sandy will continue with his GM responsibilities throughout the treatments, although of course, there will be days he may not be in the office,” Wilpon noted.

In his stead, the 68-year-old ex-Marine has two very capable lieutenants to do the footwork, former GMs Paul DePodesta, Mets Vice President of Player Development and Scouting, and J.P. Ricciardi, Special Assistant to the GM. They will take the leads as the Mets shore up for the 2016 season, with top free agent target Ben Zobrist on their shopping list.

The Mets entertained Zobrist and his family this past week, providing not only the royal tour of Citi Field, but the benefits of the New York region as well, from the fun of the city to the countrified suburbs. Zobrist, a Tennessee native, is being wooed by several teams, notably the Giants, Nationals, Cardinals, and Braves, so a full-fledged presentation was in order.

Earlier this week, Alderson was named Baseball America’s Exec of the Year, having successfully made the moves that resulted in the team’s first World Series appearance in 15 years.

And now he is faced with a greater challenge. But one that should also conclude with a happy recap.

I would know. I, too, am a survivor. Pardon the intrusion of personal insight, but about ten years ago, I was diagnosed with a Level 3 Non-Hodkins Lymphoma in my back, right behind the pancreas. It was somewhat attached to the pancreas – and not in the pancreas, thank goodness, or I might not be typing this right now. A surgery was performed, but couldn’t remove the problem, so an aggressive amount of chemotherapy was prescribed.

That, and radiation treatments that followed provided the cure, and I’ve been in remission about ten years now.

So from personal experience I can state that Alderson should have no long-lasting effects that should hinder his ability to reshape the team. There will, however, be days when the ability to function normally will be greatly diminished.

Perhaps you, or a friend or loved one has experienced something of a similar nature, as the success stories of cancer survivors increases yearly, and it seems like everyone knows someone who is grateful for modern science.

It is not painful to undergo chemotherapy. Whether it be ingested or injected, you can go home that day and feel fine. Only rest is prescribed. But depending upon the level of treatment, the next day, or sometimes a day or two later, you can feel like you weigh a thousand pounds and can’t get out of bed.

Ironically, what accelerates the cure is…steroids! Yes, baseball’s dreaded illegal substance is the root of many treatments. Chemo can cause odd and different reactions to the body. I believe everyone reacts differently. For some, the chemo can cause you to lose your sense of taste, or cause mouth sores or lesions on other parts of the body. There can be other side effects, and the cures are often neutralized with steroids.

Which is why I never get totally bent out of shape when I hear of some ballplayer being busted for steroids. Yes, there are different forms of steroids, and yes, they shouldn’t have been using them when informed of them being banned. But when steroids help save your life, you can view them differently.

We might never fully know who did what, and which pitchers faced which hitters using who-knows-what, and this is another discussion for another time, but I believe, in time, steroids will be perfected to the point where teams will have them prescribed for their ballplayers.

History tells us this will occur. The past tells us scientists will do their diligence and someday perfect all steroids. When? Couldn’t tell you. But then how will you feel about all of what has soiled baseball’s “Dark Ages.”

It was slightly odd that Alderson, and the Mets, chose not to disclose the nature of the GM’s cancer. But we’ll file that under that personal information, and if they want that to remain private, so be it. It’s more important that it be treatable, and that was good news.

In fact, what was better news was that it was discovered. Yes, getting cancer can be good news…when discovered early and being treatable. We are all infested with cancer cells, and when it becomes manifested, if treated quickly and properly, we can lead healthy lives.

Longtime Mets PR Exec Shannon Forde has been battling breast cancer since 2012. She is beloved by everyone in baseball, and I am not exaggerating when I say, everyone. She was away from the team for a time this summer undergoing treatment, but she made an appearance during the World Series, and you should have seen everyone on the team – and in the media – immediately rush to embrace her.

You may have even noticed when FOX broadcast the moment during one of the World Series games when all fans were asked to hold up small placards labeled Stand Up 2 Cancer with names of loved ones inscribed, Shannon’s name was visible on more than a handful.

Longtime baseball broadcaster Ed Randall has been leading a crusade for years against prostate cancer. Randall’s Bat For The Cure promotions around the country in recent years bring awareness to the populace about taking PSA tests for early detection. It’s simple, it’s quick, and it can save your life. Any objections?

Search Ed Randall, Ed Randall’s Talking Baseball, Bat for the Cure, or Fans4theCure, for more info.

We can all stand up and wish Sandy Alderson a speedy recovery, and the opportunities to improve a Mets ballclub seemingly this close from a World Championship


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