Plymouth Whitemarsh RB is back on the field after cancer diagnosis

Luke's dream is to play college football and he's worried his cancer journey might deter coaches.

Jamie Apody Image
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
Plymouth Whitemarsh RB back on the field after cancer diagnosis
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At 16 years old, Luke suddenly was faced with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Five rounds of intensive chemotherapy followed, along with 20 days of radiation.

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Summer football workouts may be hot and tedious to some, but not for Luke Winterbottom.

"As a junior, he was an all-league running back," says head coach Dan Chang. "He was a guy we'd feed the ball to all the time. He works hard all offseason, throughout the season, never complains about anything, got great vision, great hands, breakaway speed. He's a threat for us every time he touches the ball."

But after the season, there was no guarantee the Plymouth Whitemarsh senior running back would ever touch the ball again.

"Throughout the whole season I had a very bad cough that wouldn't go away," Luke recalls.

Chang adds, "Early in the season Luke had some chest tightness and they thought it was maybe sports-induced asthma."

He played the entire season in spite of the symptoms. In spite of the giant mass growing in his chest.

And he excelled, scoring 14 touchdowns and averaging 11.6 yards per carry while earning 1st team all-conference.

And then in November, the diagnosis nobody could've foreseen.

"It was unbelievable. Me and my family never thought it was cancer," says Luke. "So just hearing that, I can't even put it into words."

At 16 years old, Luke suddenly was faced with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Five rounds of intensive chemotherapy followed, along with 20 days of radiation, forcing him to also miss basketball season.

"Chemo sucked, it did, always feeling nauseous and not myself. Radiation wasn't as bad. It was quick, every day for 20 days," he says.

Luke's dream is to play college football and he's worried his cancer journey might deter coaches.

But then again why would it?

Think of the lessons he's learned along the way: "Self-perseverance and there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. And no matter how dark it seems, it will always get better," says Luke.

"When you've got a guy fighting for his life and coming back stronger than ever, he's definitely a role model for us in that way," adds Chang.