An open letter to Larry Nance Jr, from a Crohn’s Patient

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Larry Nance Jr
Mar 23, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. (7) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the Lakers 119-107. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Larry Nance Jr,

I’ve been reading the articles about when you were diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and the recent efforts you’ve been making to inspire those that share a connection through the disease. What you’re doing is an admirable service, and you’re reaching a lot more people than just those that you talk to while getting your infusions. While reading your story, it became clear that your complications were very similar to mine, and this gave me the utmost of confidence during a time of limbo in my life.

When I was just 15 years old, I started having complications too. All of the things I previously enjoyed were all of a sudden not as appealing anymore. Easy tasks such as taking the dog outside and even just moving from the couch to the kitchen became more like chores. Then, during my freshman year of high school, I was forced to quit the basketball team. My body couldn’t take all of the vigorous running and physicality of the game. I was only a mere 116 pounds because I couldn’t put on weight, and friends were distancing themselves because there wasn’t much I really wanted to do outside of the house.

Fast Forward a little over a year. I was introduced to Remicade, just like you, and to this day I still get my infusion every eight weeks. Out of nowhere, gaining weight was not an issue. Working out actually produced results, and I could now play pickup basketball at my local gym. That excitement of preparing to play the game I loved returned. Instead of being winded after running down the court once, I could play an entire game and still feel ready to play another. The dreams of making the NBA were long gone, but that was alright. Playing the game at all was enough for me. Being able to step on the court at the local YMCA and drive the lane for a layup between a slew of defenders was my “NBA.”

Now, here we are, I’m out of college, and you’re in the league. Both of us are close in age(you only have one year on me), and we’re both still able to do the things we love to do. Crohn’s controlled our lives for a little while when we struggled to realize what it was that made every day a constant struggle. Did we let that continue to destroy our dreams and ruin our lives? No, we didn’t. I want you to know, the reason I keep saying “us” and “we” is that we are fighting the same kinds of battles. After seeing what you went through, and experiencing it myself, I feel like I’m fighting with you.

Stripped down to basic identities, we’re both just two hoopers that love the game of basketball. You were able to pursue your dream of making it to the NBA, while I was still able to pursue mine of being able to play again. Our games are even quite similar, and I know we both give it 110% in every game. I’ll give you the edge in the whole dunking thing, ya know, being only 5’10” and all. Just know one thing though; we’re all in the fight together. Not just you and I, but every single one of those Crohn’s patients out there that could either be reading this or even out on the court working on their own game, and we will not let it get in the way of our dreams!

Sincerely,

Alex Fischbein

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