Rock­ies right-han­der Bet­tis is can­cer-free

He will re­port to spring train­ing healthy, ap­pre­cia­tive

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - BY PAT GRA­HAM

DEN­VER — Al­ways so op­ti­mistic, Chad Bet­tis vowed to be ready for spring train­ing even after be­ing di­ag­nosed with tes­tic­u­lar can­cer in Novem­ber and un­der­go­ing surgery.

Now, he knows for sure: The Colorado Rock­ies righthander most cer­tainly will be ready to pitch next month. Can­cer-free, too. On his drive home to Texas for the hol­i­days, Bet­tis re­ceived an early present in the form of a tele­phone call from his doc­tors — his blood work showed no more signs of can­cer. His early de­tec­tion, fol­lowed by surgery on Nov. 29 to have a tes­ti­cle re­moved, proved in­valu­able.

“Just awe­some news,” said the 27-year-old Bet­tis, who’s spend­ing the off­sea­son in the Phoenix area. “I feel re­ally good. Looks like we’re go­ing to be right on sched­ule for spring train­ing.”

His clean bill of health does come with the stip­u­la­tion that he has to go through rou­tine blood tests ev­ery three months or so, just to make sure the can­cer doesn’t re­turn. That he can deal with, es­pe­cially after all he’s been through.

“When my doc­tor said tes­tic­u­lar can­cer, I didn’t re­ally hear ‘tes­tic­u­lar’ as much as the ‘can­cer’ part,” said Bet­tis, a sec­ond-round draft pick by the Rock­ies in 2010. “And when you hear can­cer, it’s a blow. It’s hard to wrap your mind around how that hap­pened.

“But the more we talked about it, the more re­search I did, it wasn’t so much wor­ry­ing about base­ball, it was that I needed to get this fig­ured out now.”

What led to his de­tec­tion was not so much feel­ing sick but run down and ex­hausted soon after a sea­son in which he went 14-8 with a 4.79 ERA. One day, he felt a lump about the size of a grain of rice. No rea­son for alarm, he told him­self. The next day, it was still there.

So he con­tacted his doc­tor. An ul­tra­sound and blood­work re­vealed it was tes­tic­u­lar can­cer. A CT scan showed the can­cer hadn’t spread.

“I never would’ve thought I could have tes­tic­u­lar can­cer at 27, when I didn’t feel any pain. That can’t hap­pen to me,” Bet­tis said. “But it can, and you have to be aware of it and be in tune with your own health.”

Soon after his surgery, he was cleared for some light re­hab work. Then, it was all about get­ting back into shape — build­ing up his shoul­der and arm. Re­cently, he started throw­ing again.

Next week, he’s go­ing to be all sys­tems go.

Bet­tis fig­ures to be an in­te­gral part of the 2017 start­ing ro­ta­tion un­der first-year Rock­ies man­ager Bud Black, join­ing a tal­ented group that also in­cludes Jon Gray, Tyler An­der­son and Tyler Chat­wood.

“Open­ing day — 100 per­cent, that’s my mind­set,” said Bet­tis, whose wife, Kristina, is ex­pect­ing a baby girl in late March. “Just keep mov­ing for­ward. That’s al­ways the kind of per­son I’ve been. Let’s just keep push­ing for­ward.”

He’s amazed at all the sup­port he’s re­ceived over the last few months. From his team­mates, who sent him warm wishes. From man­age­ment, which stood by his side. And from the fans, who have sent him en­cour­ag­ing mes­sages.

“It’s so nice to know there are so many who have gone through this and bat­tled through this stuff and they’re 30 years down road and have fam­i­lies and (the can­cer) is still nonex­is­tent,” Bet­tis said. “It’s some­thing very cur­able, but you have to get it de­tected early.”

That’s why he wants to start a foun­da­tion one day, some­thing that leads other men to early de­tec­tion for tes­tic­u­lar can­cer — just like him.

“Get the word out there, where guys are check­ing for this,” he said. “We can catch it early.”


Rock­ies pitcher Chad Bet­tis was di­ag­nosed with tes­tic­u­lar can­cer in Novem­ber, but is now can­cer-free.

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