Loons pitcher's love of baseball helps him strike out cancer - WNEM TV 5

Loons pitcher's love of baseball helps him strike out cancer

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MIDLAND, MI (WNEM) -

A member of the Great Lakes Loons is ready to take on all comers after beating his toughest opponent ever.

Being a professional baseball player is extra special for new Great Lakes Loons pitcher Devin Smeltzer.

When Smeltzer was 9-years-old he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

“I had bladder and prostate rhabdomyosarcoma. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a very aggressive cancer so it was, uh, it was a tough year. A lot of struggles with radiation and chemo. Losing weight, loss of appetite and everything. It's really true when they say that cancer is not the problem it's the treatments that really knock you down,” Smeltzer said.

Treatment took away his hair and he lost 50 pounds, but a love for the game of baseball helped him fight the disease.

“I've been playing since I was 3 or 4 years old, always loved the game I was blessed enough to somehow find the energy and able to play through on my good days and I think it just gave me that sense of normalcy which was good because I couldn't go to school or anything,” Smeltzer said.

Loons Manager Jeremy Rodriguez thinks Smeltzer's cancer battle helped make him the talented baseball player that he is today.

“He's a fighter and that's something you'll see on the mound from him and it started from probably that experience. People that have stories like that will always compete for you and always fight for every last ounce of their career. That's something that I saw from him this spring training. I didn't even know about the whole cancer experience for him but I could tell when he's on that mound he gives you everything he has and he'll leave it all on the table for you,” Rodriguez.

Smeltzer is 21-years-old now and he's been declared cancer free for a while, but he still goes in for checkups once or twice a year. 

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