Seeing her 14-year-old son, Andre, play second base and centerfield for the Somerset Spartans Babe Ruth team after an off-season of treatment for recurrent kidney cancer represents more than Amy Beasley of Somerset, WI, can put into words.
“We thought there was no way Andre could go through this much chemo and radiation—again—and still be on the field in 2017,” Amy said. “So to see him go out for that first practice …”
Baseball has helped heal the Beasleys. For Andre as a player, and Amy as his coach.
When Andre hung up his cleats at the end of summer 2016, he appeared to be a healthy kid. But by early fall, he had been re-diagnosed with Wilms tumor, the most common type of kidney cancer in children.
His first bout with Wilms was in 2013; a Stage II tumor. When it came back, doctors called it Stage IV.
Andre spent the winter and early spring in and out of the hospital. His treatment ended the week before baseball started.
“He set a goal and made it his purpose to be ready and back on the field with all of his friends,” Amy said. “He loves baseball.”
Andre described the healing effect of baseball in teen-age boy terms: “It kind of put my mind at ease a little bit more.”
When the season started, he had no hair, and he wasn’t in running shape. But his teammates didn’t notice.
From her dugout perspective, Amy said, “They don’t think about his bald head under that baseball cap. They just go back to being kids.”
Meanwhile, Amy went back to being a coach. “I tend to coach by instructing, and helping them draw the connections between what they need to change and why they need to change it,” she said.
That’s the same approach she took to make her family whole again.
“So many people say, ‘Oh, I could never be as strong as you are going through this,’” Amy said. “But really, you’ve got no choice. And so you find a strength that you never knew you had. Everybody has it in them. I just always hope no one has to see it like I’ve had to see it.”
Over two diagnoses, Amy said thinking of her son, and every cancer patient, as “just an average person who has gotten news the rest of us haven’t had to deal with” has helped her heal.
Andre fits the profile. Amy said, “He’s just a normal kid with a port in his chest, who has gone through a lot of medications. But he’s still the same teammate from last fall and summer.”