Wrestler shows "Heart of a Lion" in comeback from cancer - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Wrestler shows "Heart of a Lion" in comeback from cancer


For now, Dylan Shumaker is back to being a normal high school junior, but this time last year, things were much different.

"I'm a teenage boy, so like we want to win," said Dylan. "We want to win as much as possible."

June 22nd, 2012, is a date that the Shumaker family will never forget. Dylan was lying in a hospital bed when doctors told him he had a rare form of cancer wrapped around his spine.

"As a mom my job is to take care of my kids," said Dylan's mother Kay. "If they're sick you make them better. If they're hurt, you make it better. This is something I couldn't make better."

The family was devastated, but one of Dylan's high school wrestling coaches quickly stepped in with a pep talk.

"[Coach Spaid] looked at me and said its just another wrestling match, just a little bit bigger, it's probably like a semi-state match, but as soon as you beat it you're going to be the state champ," said Dylan.

Dylan remained a part of the Bremen wrestling team, even during his radiation, but he couldn't actually wrestle. As he watched his teammates in the ring, all he could think about was how much he wanted to get back on the mat.

Over a year later, this past summer Dylan's dream of returning to the ring started to become a reality.

His MRI's were clean and doctors told him he better buy some wrestling shoes for the next season.

"They took me in and told me keep the battle going," said Dylan. "If you win, if you can take down cancer, you'll be a champion."

Before the Bremen junior knew it, it was time for his for his first match.

Dylan said he was nervous until he caught a glimpse of a tattoo he got after he was cancer free. A cross, wrapped in a ribbon, with Philippines 4:13 written inside.

"[Philippines 4:13 reads] I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," said Dylan "I think about that before my matches and I look at that and he got me through my cancer treatment, so he's going to get me through a match."

With the nerves gone, it was his turn to enter the ring.  As he stepped on the mat, his parents watched on, thinking about all their son had been through.

"It didn't matter if he lost," said Kay. "Just the fact that he overcame so much, and the fact to see him step out on the mat again was just an amazing feeling."

He'd spent over a year and a half, fighting to get back, but this fight was much quicker.

After just six minutes, Dylan won his first match back from Cancer.

"Wrestling, it felt good," said Dylan. "It felt good to get my first win of the season."

After the win, his coaches greeted with him big hugs. One of which came from the same coach who told him he would make it back to the mat.

"Its a huge inspiration for everybody you know," said Bremen Assistant Wrestling Coach Nicholas Spaid. "You got a guy who's down in practice and all you have to do is point at Dylan and say you want to go through what he went through. If he's got the guts to comeback, fight through what you have to."

The next hug was from Dylan's father. The same person who had held Dylan's hand during his treatments. The same man who would have traded spots with his son if he could have.

"Very emotional. I'm very proud," said Mike Shumaker, Dylan's father while tearing up. "It's a big step for what has happened to him."

Dylan had four more matches that day; he won them all. He is back to wrestling something other than cancer for the first time in a long time and he wouldn't have it any other way.

"Saying I beat cancer, no one can say that unless they have beat it," said Dylan. "I beat this. I'm staying positive.You just got to stay positive. Keep going. There's always light at the end of the tunnel."

Throughout Dylan's treatments, the Shumaker received several donations from their community. They are very appreciative of all the help they received and are thankful to have made so many new friends along the way.

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