A day after outlining his surprise diagnosis with stage 3 colon cancer and subsequent chemotherapy treatment to ensure it doesn’t come back, Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini detailed how he stays positive and fills his days around treatments and preparations for a return to baseball.
“From the second I got the diagnosis, I knew I had to accept it really quickly,” Mancini said on a video conference call with local reporters Wednesday. “I think that’s helped me a lot. I didn’t really mope around too much. Don’t get me wrong, it was really tough — especially the first few days. And talking to the team was really tough too, telling them what was going on. I think accepting it pretty quickly and just knowing this is what’s going to happen, that helped me a lot.”
His surgery to remove a malignant tumor March 12 came just six days after a colonoscopy discovered it, the result of further testing after Mancini had low iron levels in his blood during his entry physical at the beginning of spring training camp. Had it not been detected, he said, he was “pretty confident that it would have progressed another stage, which obviously would have been pretty devastating.”
Doctors weren’t sure if he had stage 2 or stage 3 cancer, and the surgery revealed that the cancer had spread to three of the 23 lymph nodes around the colon, meaning it was early stage 3.
“The chemo at that point is kind of like an insurance policy because you don’t know if that can spread anywhere else and give me a different form of cancer,” he said. “It was a no-brainer to get the chemotherapy for long-term health reasons.”
Mancini began every-other-Monday chemotherapy April 13, he said, meaning he’s had one full cycle and gotten familiar with his life with them for the next six months. There’s a three-hour infusion at the hospital, and then a 46-hour drip into the port in his chest that’s removed on Wednesday.
The worst day, he said, was that Thursday with some minor nausea and exhaustion, but he said he was back to normal appetite-wise on Friday.
“Hopefully, it stays like that where it’s just like kind of three or four days of not feeling ideal and 10 days of feeling good,” Mancini said. “I’m hoping for those 10 days or whatever days I’m feeling good, I’m going to take advantage of and get all my exercise in. I’m finally able to start lifting lighter weights.
“I’ve got some bands and dumbbells from one of the strength coaches the other day actually to have here at the house. I’m going to start to do a little bit of exercise in that regard. I’ve gone for a couple runs. I’m definitely able to do some things — not as much as I’m used to. But I’m going to do everything I can to try and keep up physically.”
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He said he’s monitoring some possible side effects including neuropathy, which can cause tingling in his hands and in rare cases can be permanent, but chose his treatment plan “to reduce the risk of that because of baseball,” he said.
Otherwise, Mancini finds it striking that he’s able to carry on what would be a normal cancer-treatment routine as the world has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. He has to take extra precautions when he leaves his house because the chemotherapy can reduce his white and red blood cell counts and make him more susceptible to illness.
He said he’s used this treatment and the ensuing downtime to watch “The Wire,” the HBO crime drama series set in Baltimore, and is close to finishing the series about three weeks after he started it.
When he needs something a little lighter, he watches “The Office.” That, combined with the experiences shared by colon cancer survivors who had similar diagnoses and have gone on to live healthy lives are doing a lot to keep him positive throughout the experience.
“From the sound of it, from everybody that I’ve talked to, they’ve all recovered well and haven’t had reoccurrence,” Mancini said. “From the second I got my diagnosis, that was my main worry — what can I do to reduce the risk of this ever happening again? And I feel like I’ve done everything I can up to this point, and I’ll do that in the future too.”
“You see him and you hear from him, and he’s so upbeat and you see his strength and his youth and his health, and we all know that this is going to be a matter of time,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said on the call.
”But it’s tough for our organization, it’s tough for our team. We’re going through a really tough period and now we’re going to be out for a while without our best player, and a big heartbeat in our clubhouse. But he’s still going to be around, and I think it’s going to make it all the more special when he gets back. It’s going to mean a lot to us and the progress that we’re making as an organization when Trey Mancini comes back to us.”