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Luke Lang: Losing Is Not An Option

by Jason Radowitz | Posted on Saturday, April 26th, 2014

In March of 2013, six-year-old Luke Lang, living in North Bellemore, New York was diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome – positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph-positve ALL). This disease can be controlled by intensive chemotherapy, which Luke is given, however after finishing one year of chemotherapy, he’s expected to go through three more years of chemotherapy, or what his father Rich says, “three years left of treatment from this monster”.

After learning that his son had leukemia, Rich was given statistics for survival rate with this disease. Rich didn’t want to hear it.

“He gave us statistics and I told him he was wrong,” Rich said. “He looked at me and I said, ‘it’s going to be 100 percent.’ Then I told the doctor, ‘losing is not an option here doc.’ That’s how we started that saying and that’s the truth. Losing in not an option.”

Since that moment, Rich, his wife Jeannine, and Luke’s brother Logan have supported Luke every step of the way. Luke has showed his family what life is all about. Even through the worst, you’ll usually catch Luke smiling and laughing. One thing that has always kept Luke smiling during the tough times has been the New York Mets.

In late July of 2013, Luke and his family went to Citi Field loaded with bracelets that a friend made for Luke that had the phrase “Losing Is Not An Option”. With field passes in hand from a friend, Luke was able to pass his bracelets to some of the Mets roster. On his first visit, Luke was able to become very close with catchers John Buck and Anthony Recker. Luke was even lucky enough to make a trade with Buck. His bracelet for Buck’s favorite bat. Luke accepted the trade and Buck signed the bat with the inscription “To Luke, My Idol and Hero”.

John Buck and Luke make their trade official.

John Buck and Luke make their trade official.

A few weeks later, Luke made another trip to Citi Field, again armed with many bracelets that he gave out to most of the team. John Buck helped Luke find most of the players as he continued to give his iconic bracelets away to many of the players on the team. On that second visit, he gave a bracelet to Travis d’Arnaud, Eric Young Jr., Matt Harvey, David Wright, Josh Satin, and Justin Turner, just to name a few.

John Buck and Anthony Recker didn’t take off their bracelets during the remainder of the 2013 season. There are many pictures that show the bracelet still being warn by the two catchers during the 2013 season, even with Buck being traded to Pittsburgh.

“John Buck, Anthony Recker, and Justin Turner have been so great to Luke,” Rich explained. “These guys are true class acts. He feels very special when he goes to baseball games and these guys all know who he is. When Luke is in the hospital, they call him, write to him on Twitter, or even send pictures of them with other baseball players. It’s very humbling.”

The Mets have definitely lifted Luke’s spirits through the first year of chemotherapy. Luke tries to watch every game of the season, without missing a single pitch.

“It brings me happiness,” Luke said. “I love to cheer for the Mets and my favorite players.”

Justin Turner poses with Luke and Logan after handing Logan his bat.

Justin Turner poses with Luke and Logan after handing Logan his bat.

His favorite players had a great time with Luke and his brother Logan, making them feel very welcomed in the clubhouse during his visits. Recker took Luke and Logan into the locker room during their visit, before the game. Luke was very excited to see all the players he supports and roots for everyday, also support him and help him defeat his disease by keeping their bracelets on their wrists.

There will always be one moment in the clubhouse he will never forget.

“We spoke with David Wright and Daniel Murphy and I told Murph, ‘you get a lot of RBI’s’, and he pointed to David Wright and said, ‘he gets more’.”

After that Luke and his brother Logan hit off the tee capping off an awesome experience at Citi Field.

The Mets went out of their way to make Luke and Logan feel like they were a part of the team. They absolutely did everything in their power to help Luke and the rest of the Lang’s forget about the tough times and enjoy a day alongside the Mets.

Emmy award winning Sports Director and weeknight sports anchor at News 12 Long Island, Kevin Maher, first released this story on News 12 on September 30, 2013. You can check the story out here. As he produced this piece, Maher said that he’s never seen a professional team do all they could for one kid.

“I’ve done a lot of ‘charity’ stories in pro sports,” Maher explained. “Most of the teams are just looking for good PR. This was not the case. I have never seen a group of professional athletes take such a vested interest in one fan. It was all genuine and I’m sure it would have been the same whether our camera was there at Citi Field or not. I can’t tell you how many times the Lang’s turned to me and said, ‘Wow, this is crazy’ as the Mets gave Luke pictures, bats, balls and a tour of the club house. It was truly like Mr. Lang said, ‘like they were my son’s best friend’. It took me 17 years in the business to see something like that and I’m not sure if I’ll ever see a true example of it again.”

Luke has an entire living room full of pictures, bats, and balls from family, friends, and athletes showing their support and love for Luke. Although Luke has never counted how many pictures he has on his living room wall, there are a couple that stand out to him. Pictures with John Buck and Logan, Matt Harvey and Logan, David Wright, and Justin Turner are his favorites.

Luke's living room filled with pictures and cards.

Luke’s living room filled with pictures and cards.

Now that Luke is finally home and going to school full time, he’s able to look at those pictures every day to remember that all the good in life outweighs the bad. Still, every day is a battle for Luke as he and his family live day-by-day.

“We now live one day at a time,” Rich explained. “We hope and pray for good days, but we all fight through the bad days. Luke knows he can’t play rough (but he does), because of the port he has in his chest. When Luke’s numbers are low he can’t go out or be around people to prevent him from getting sick. He takes chemotherapy pills everyday. Some days he has to take a total of 13 pills. Luke also gets very sick a lot of the time from them. That’s very painful to see. He knows why he is sick too. He always says cancer stinks.”

Rich wants to wake up every morning and realize it’s all just a dream. But it’s not a dream. And it’s hard for Rich to take in that his son is going through this. To watch anyone go through what Luke is going through is painful to watch. Watching your own son, a six-year-old boy, going through this is absolutely brutal.

“Our family feels it and so do our relatives and friends,” Rich said. “It is very hard on everyone.”

But if anyone could get through this battle, Luke would be that guy. Luke says that his Mom, Dad, and Logan have helped him become the strong boy he is today. Logan has accepted whatever was asked of him to help Luke and his parents when needed.

“Logan has been amazing,” Rich indicated. “He never once complained about staying at a friend’s house when Luke was in the hospital. He never says anything when Luke gets special attention. He would build Luke’s Legos for him to play with. He was very happy when Luke was home from the hospital.”

However, Rich credited his wife Jeannine for holding the Lang’s together.

“Jeannine is a rock,” Rich pointed out. “Jeannine is definitely much stronger than me.”

But it was Rich that wrote love letters to both of his sons, placing them behind one of the pictures in Luke’s “Mets bedroom”. Rich wanted to write the letter to show how he felt about his sons every day. He wanted to write the love letters to show how much his sons mean to him and how much he loves and cares about his them. And he thinks everyone should do what he does. Because if you don’t, you’ll regret it in the future.

Kevin Maher explained that watching Rich pour his heart out while being interviewed was so emotional, that even he himself felt tears running down his cheeks.

“This was one of the most heart wrenching stories I’ve ever put together,” Maher of News 12 concluded. “I’ve never cried while asking questions during an interview. But seeing Rich pour his heart out when speaking about Luke’s ordeal got to me. I had a lump in my throat the size of a baseball and teared up a bit. I guess because I have kids around Luke’s age, you put yourself in that position and can really relate to what the Lang’s must be going through. And when Rich told me about the love letter he wrote to his sons and hid on the back of a picture…wow, that was like an arrow to my heart. What an idea and I could only imagine how hard it was to write that note knowing that one of his sons was so sick. After the story aired there were a number of wet eyes in the News 12 studio. I can tell you that.”

Still, Luke will not allow cancer to affect his life.

Although Luke had to sit out all of last year, Luke is now able to play little league baseball again, as a part of the White Sox. Luke’s passion has always been baseball. He loves the game. But Luke also enjoys every major sport, including basketball, hockey, and football, as well as WWE.

Luke has also met WWE stars, Sheamus and John Cena just to name a few. John Cena told Luke that he loved Luke’s motto to beat his disease.

Luke meets WWE superstar John Cena

Luke meets WWE superstar John Cena

If you would like to donate and buy a bracelet or a T-Shirt to help Luke through this tough time and beat this disease, you can go to Luke’s Facebook Page at Love4Luke and message Rich for details. All donations will go into their bank account.

Cancer has affected many people in this world. My uncle just previously died from prostate cancer on November 16, 2013. He fought and fought until he no longer could put up a fight because he was too weak.

Maher has also lost his mother and every grand parent to this threatening disease.

“I’ve had cancer touch my family as well,” Maher explained. “I’ve lost every grand parent to the disease and my mother as well. It sucks. But I could not imagine what it’s like to take it on as a parent with a sick child. The Lang’s are determined to kick this disease with as much gusto as possible. Rich told me many times that his sons (yes, that includes Logan) are his heroes and I think that is the God’s honest truth. How many dads would say that? When we joined them for one of Luke’s chemo treatments, you could tell how united they were as parents and how hard it is being in the treatment ward wondering if the procedure will work. But at the same time they were laughing and joking and making sure Luke behaved. That’s a tough ying-and-yang of emotions. They invited us into what I imagine is the worst time of their lives and showed that they are two shining examples of hope, love and parental unity.”

But even through the toughest times, Luke is determined to prove the statistics wrong. He’s influenced too many people to give up on his fight now. Luke is the strongest person you will ever meet. He’s also the bravest. And for Luke Lang, “Losing Is Not An Option”.

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