After beating cancer, Whitman-Hanson Regional High alum Rian Schwede is back on the mound at Endicott College.
Rian Schwede isn’t too used to getting hit hard.
But just about a year ago to the day he was — not on the baseball field but off it.
He received a cancer diagnosis.
“It all started when I got home,” said Schwede, a sophomore at Endicott College. “We got sent home in March, and I found out in April. I was shocked. It was kind of crazy going home and finding out about all that stuff — the season getting canceled and having to finish school, which was another element I had to deal with.”
Then a couple of weeks later, it got worse.
“They said it was Stage 3 at first,” Schwede recalled. “Then I got a call one afternoon saying, ‘Hey Rian, we got some bad news. The blood work came back, and you’ve been upgraded to Stage 4.’ I took that phone call by myself in my room.”
Fortunately for Schwede, it was a pretty curable form of testicular cancer with chemotherapy and then a final surgery.
“I started chemo in early June to mid-August,” he said. “Every three weeks, I’d have to go in for one week, and then I’d come out and have a three-week break and go in for another week.”
Baseball helped take his mind off the process, beginning with his team at Endicott.
“Every single week I was in the hospital I’d get a text from the whole team,” Schwede said. “Everyone would be saying, ‘Yo, good luck. You got it.’ And I get some calls from my close friends on the team.”
Schwede, a three-time Patriot League All-Star on the diamond at Whitman-Hanson Regional High, also played in the local Ted Williams League in between treatments.
“I was like, ‘I’ll go there, I’ll throw and take my mind off things,’” Schwede said. “It was a really good time. I would do it with my friends from home, too.”
In October, Schwede was officially cancer free. And while one battle was down, there was still another to go. He’d lost about 10 to 15 pounds during chemotherapy and knew he had to build himself up before the college baseball season. After a few months, he was even bigger than he was before – weighing in at 215 pounds.
“I kind of just flipped the switch to get back to normal,” he said. “I had a set routine of going to the gym and going to my trainers. It was a really good, productive offseason going from absolutely nothing in the fall to just work my butt off to get back to where I am now.”
He spent part of that offseason working with Diamondbacks pitching prospect Matt Tabor.
“He really helped me pitching-wise,” Schwede said.
Schwede’s commitment this offseason paid off. He took the ball for Endicott in its conference opener against Wentworth on Saturday, March 27. Schwede struck out four over 3 2/3 innings in a 4-3 win.
“It was great to get back out there,” said Schwede. “It’s been a grind the last month or two.”
Said Endicott skipper Bryan Haley: “The fact that he’s gone through what he’s gone through and he gets the ball in a big game for us is definitely special.”
Haley said Schwede’s journey gives the team a different perspective on life.
“We get caught up a lot in our day-to-day, the wins and losses and these little things that we make much bigger than they are,” Haley said. “Then Rian gets cancer and it kind of just hits the breaks on everybody and says, ‘Hey, listen. What are we really worried about here?’ We’re pretty lucky to be out here competing.”