NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma offensive linemen Austin Woods and Bronson Irwin have been roommates ever since they enrolled early at OU. When Irwin heard his friend was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the spring, it shocked him. What hasn’t shocked him is Woods’ mentality during the process.
“That’s the way he has been and that’s the way he will always be,” Irwin said. “It’s a fighter’s mentality. It’s a 12-round prize fight and Austin will be there the whole time.”
Woods, OU's deep snapper on field goals, was diagnosed a week after spring football but hasn’t missed a beat. He only missed two summer workouts and has been cleared to play this season.
Following Tuesday's practice, Woods spoke to the media for the first time since his diagnosis:
SoonerNation: Talking to all your teammates, every single one of them mentions you as an inspiration. What does it mean to you to hear things like that from your teammates?
Austin Woods: It means a lot that they say that about me. We’re all brothers on this team. I knew no matter what I wanted to be there for them. It could always be worse. As bad as you think you are, you’re not as bad as some other people. No matter what you’re going through, we can get through this together.
SN: When did you first notice there might be something wrong?
AW: All spring I had a sore throat and swollen glands. I went to trainer Scott Anderson and showed him and asked if that was normal, he said no, not really. I saw multiple doctors and was finally diagnosed with it. It wasn’t [mononucleosis], wasn’t strep throat but nobody was really talking cancer. Went to an oncologist and thought maybe this is cancer. If that’s the case, (I've) got to let my family know. Got to have my coaches and teammates know and be ready to fight this thing.
SN: What was your first thought after being diagnosed?
AW: My first thought was, when can I play football again? Originally I thought I couldn’t play football this year. They told me you need to redshirt this year. I have that redshirt year so it wasn’t that big of a deal. But I handled the treatments so well. I only missed two days of summer workouts. Not because I was sick or tired but because I had to miss those days for treatment. Two weeks before two-a-days I was told I could play. It was an exciting day.
SN: What’s the latest update? How are the treatments coming along?
AW: I have one every two weeks. I have three left. Well, four left, I have one Friday. I get pretty fatigued. I sit in a chair for 3-4 hours, and they stick me with an inch-long needle and put different chemicals into my system. It doesn’t hurt. The worst part is getting poked with the needle. After the first couple of weeks, (being) poked in the arm so many times, it’s like whatever.
SN: What have the doctors said in terms of your progress?
AW: I’ve been pretty lucky. I’ve gotten through these treatments pretty well. The last scan came back excellent. All the cancer cells are going away.
SN: You hear the news and doesn’t football have to be put on the back-burner? Was there ever a point you thought about giving up the game?
AW: No, that thought never went through my mind. I love football. Love my teammates and love the University of Oklahoma. Like I said, football was the first thing on my mind. I wanted to know how fast I could get back on the field. Once the doctors said there was no risk, I couldn’t wait to get back out there.
SN: What has helped you get through this?
AW: My mom had breast cancer when I was 5. My mom or dad have been at every single one of my treatments. She has been a real help. Bronson is one of my best friends. He’s my roommate, actually. He sat there all four hours for that first treatment and has been with me every step of the way. Defeat was never an option.