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A chance to meet his sports hero PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Carol Pomeday   
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 18:22
GREEN BAY PACKERS quarterback Aaron Rodgers met Brandon Novack (seated, right), his brother Connor and parents Joanie and Leonard at a Dec. 4 fundraiser for Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer held at the Packers Party House near Lambeau Field.

Packers quarterback says Brandon Novack has been an inspiration

Brandon Novack of Belgium has a football he won’t let out of his sight for long.

On Dec. 4, at a “Pack Lunch With Aaron Rodgers” benefit to raise money for Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, the Green Bay Packers quarterback took the white commemorative football and wrote, “Brandon, thanks for being an inspiration to me.”

Novack and Rodgers spoke at the fundraiser held at the Packers Party House near Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

A story on their meeting is on the MACC Fund’s Web site.

Novack, 20, has battled T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia for eight years and has a designed a MACC Star ornament, participated in the Trek/MACC Fund bike ride and spoke at numerous events for the organization that has funded research that likely saved his life.

“He’s one of their better success stories,” his mother Joanie said.

Novack humbly tells his story whenever asked and never fails to thank the donors who make his recovery possible.

“I talked a little bit (about his cancer fight), but mostly I addressed how if it wasn’t for the MACC Fund, I don’t think I would be alive,” Novack said. “I thanked the people for supporting it. I told them, ‘The MACC Fund does more than give money. It gives hope to me and all kids with cancer.’”

Novack was in the seventh grade when he learned he had T-cell leukemia. He underwent 108 weeks of chemotherapy and weeks of full cranial radiation to kill the cancer cells. But the treatments also caused side effects, including brittle bones, that he’s had to deal with.

Just when it looked like everything was behind him and he could be a normal college student at a school where classmates don’t know his history, Novack started having double vision. It was Labor Day weekend and he had recently moved into his dorm at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay — his first time living away from home after completing two years at UW-Sheboygan.

He called his parents and ended up in the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa. Bleeding in his brain stem caused the double vision and weakness in his arm.

“It had stopped bleeding, but they wanted to keep me under observation to make sure it had stopped,” Novack said. “There was nothing they could do about it. They did an MRI to make sure there wasn’t any more bleeding.”   

He was released two days later and returned to school, but the double vision continued for two months.

“I would close one eye to try to read,” he said.

That finally cleared up, but a few days later his arm started tingling and became numb. That, too, is getting better, he said.

“I feel good,” he said. “It was no big thing.”

That’s the attitude he’s taken whenever faced with a new challenge in his battle with cancer and this is the next chapter, his mother said.

“The doctors told us there was nothing they could do about it. It was caused by the treatment that saved him,” his mother said.

“As they’re telling us everything he could face, his attitude was, ‘OK, this is my life. What do I have to do?’ It would have been so easy for him to quit many times, but he never does.”

Novack is home for winter break and will return to school in mid-January to continue working on a degree in marketing with a minor in accounting.

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