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My Signature: Justin Row on his battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Baseball  . 

My Signature: Justin Row on his battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma

by Brad Muller, Director of Content

On December 19, 2019, former South Carolina baseball infielder (2017-2018) and student assistant coach (2019) Justin Row was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  On March 13 of this year, Row was told he was in remission. After a recent treatment, Row shared what was going through his mind during that tough 86-day stretch, and what’s on deck as he looks to take the next step in life.

I’ve thought about ‘what if it comes back’ and my mindset towards it is the same as it was when I was diagnosed originally; figure out what’s going on and beat it! There are no other options.

I found out I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma while playing baseball in Australia. I am extremely lucky in regard to how I found out. My roommate’s girlfriend actually saw the bump (on his arm) and told me I needed to get it checked out. Granted she is a physical trainer, so I thought she knew what she was talking about. I went to the doctor and she ordered blood work and an ultrasound to see what was going on. The blood work came back troublesome, so a biopsy was immediately ordered and the next day I went and did that. They said this would tell us exactly what was wrong. Once the results came back from the biopsy the diagnosis was clear that I had cancer.

I was more in shock than anything when the doctor told me. I did not cry. I did not yell. I just kind of sat there. The doctor handed me tissues expecting me to start crying, but I honestly did not know what to do. I have lived such a healthy and fit lifestyle up to that point, I honestly didn’t believe it could happen to me. Obviously when someone tells you that you have cancer in any form, it’s terrifying.

Luckily for me, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is one of the most treatable cancers out there, so my doctors were extremely confident in curing me. Plus, we had caught it in such an early stage, which made them even more confident.

Treatments are long and not too much fun. I get them every two weeks. I typically get to the hospital around 11 a.m. for blood work and to get a line put into my port so there is easy access for blood and the infusion. Then I go see my doctor to make sure the blood work comes back clean and he can approve the infusion for the day. Once that is approved then I go to the infusion center of the hospital to get treatment. They start by giving you steroids to help your body and Benadryl to sleep due to the treatments being about five and half hours long. Then they start pumping it into your chest and you just lay there the whole time. I fell asleep every time for almost the full five hours. Once the treatments are done it’s usually about 8 or 9 p.m., and we just get food and head home.

The day after I’m usually OK due to the steroids being in my system, but the following 3-4 days after are pretty tough. Not much eating, body hurts. It actually feels like something is burning inside my chest and stomach region. It’s different for everyone, but for me, once I started feeling almost better and eating a full meal, it was time to go back for another treatment. As of now, I have done five treatments with 2-3 more to go pending on how my body is reacting.

The response I got was so uplifting and positive. I could never imagine having that much support across a nation. It meant a lot because I was really down in the dumps when it hit the internet, and all the positive feedback really helped me and made me push through it and get through the dark times of this process.
Justin Row instagram
Justin Row on Instagram

The support of Gamecock nation, my teammates, my friends, coaches, staff, fans – just everyone showed their love and I couldn’t express enough my gratitude and appreciation for them. It truly shows the special nature and culture that the University has created for every single Gamecock that goes to school there. But if I had to choose one moment was when JBJ (Jackie Bradley, Jr.) called me. To me, that was pretty special.

I knew the treatment was working because the bumps on my body were either gone or much smaller than before. But the actual day they told me the treatment was working was March 13, which was the day I was told I was in remission.  It was amazing to hear that. My parents were with me, and they immediately started crying which was fun to see those tears because it was tears of joy.

I think about my time at South Carolina every day. Some of the best experiences of my life were while I was there. Being with the team day in and day out, playing in big games every single weekend, the intensity of it all, going to watch other sports, becoming friends with people from Oregon to New Jersey to overseas – many of the memories created are forever with, me and I will never forget it.

Now I’m working on getting a job and joining the working world. It’s difficult right now given the current state of the world. I know I want to stay in sports and especially baseball.

To anyone that is struggling with something, I would say, never ever give up. I know this is a difficult time and even tougher times lie ahead, but you can do this. The mindset with this is 80% of the battle. Have people around you who are positive, and you enjoy being around. Always know that you have someone to talk to. We may not know each other, but I am here and will always be there to help.

Justin Row signature