Austin Woods was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma around the time of the Oklahoma spring game.
Recruited out of Rockwall, Texas as the nation's No. 4-ranked center by one recruiting service, Woods is the Sooners' deep snapper and backup center. He has been going through two-a-days while undergoing chemotherapy for the cancer that was discovered in his throat.
Woods doesn't remember the exact day he was diagnosed, but this week he recounted to the media what his fight against cancer has been like.
What's it like going through these workouts and knowing you're an inspiration to your team?
It means a lot that my teammates say that about me. That's one of the things I want to do is be there for them. I wanted to be there and show them it always could be worse. I'm not as bad off as I possibly could be. There's always someone that could be going through something worse than you are.
When you first got your diagnosis, what crossed your mind?
My first thought was “when can I play football again? What's the timeline for everything? When are my treatments and surgeries?” So I just talked to my doctors and they said, “As much as you can, you can keep going through physical activity, go through summer workouts.” … But I handled the treatments so well and I'd gone through summer workouts just like everyone else. … The fact that I was able to do that two weeks before two-a-days started, I was told, you can play football ... Since I invested and went through summer workouts I decided I'm going to go ahead and play. I'm able and ready to play football this year and that's what I decided to do.
What do you feel like after chemotherapy?
I get pretty fatigued. I'm sitting in a chair for four hours. They stick me with an inch-long needle and I get pumped with toxin and chemical and all for about four hours. After that I'm pretty tired but it takes me a day or two, and then I'm back on my feet and ready to go.
Was there ever a point in your mind where you said, ‘I might not play football?'
No, that was never a thought. Football, as soon as I got diagnosed, my first thought was how can I play with my teammates? How can I keep working out with them, and how can I get myself ready to keep working out with them again?
What are they telling you about how the rest of the road is like?
After my first treatment, they said if you don't get nauseated or really fatigued they said it's probably going to be a really smooth road, “You're probably not going to get too sick or too tired.” All they said is, “You might get a little more fatigued each time because the treatments really knock you down.” It really make you fatigued so each time I feel myself getting a little more tired, but after coming back and staying physically active really has helped keep my blood counts up and everything like that.
We heard you practiced last week and then went to treatment?
Yeah it was Monday morning. I practiced, got done with team sets, got done with practice and I went to Oklahoma City for my treatment.
Are you exhausted the next day?
I mean, I was pretty tired, but it's just something you've got to do. Something I want to do. I want to play football and I want to battle this cancer and I want to win so I want to help my teammates, so that's just something I had to do. I took the next day off and recovered and was ready to go that Wednesday.
What kind of feedback are you getting from doctors?
My last scan came back excellent. All my lymph nodes. All the cancerous cells are going away.