Cancer survivor joins hometown team

First-year offensive tackle Andrew McDonald had a testicular cancer mass removed in May, is now healthy and happy to realize his childhood dream of playing for the Colts.

Indianapolis Colts fans have another reason to cheer for offensive tackle Andrew McDonald other than the fact he’s the latest Hoosier native to join his hometown team.

McDonald, 26, is a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed in May with testicular cancer, had a mass removed the next day, and is now healthy. The first-year pro played two games earlier this season for Seattle.

“It was a little challenge,” McDonald said of his scary setback. “Grace of God, free and clear now. I’m just playing for my hometown team and life is good.

“When I was going through it, my mind-set was to just look at the positive things that you have because you never know how fast things can be kind of switched up on you, of how fast challenges come. It pretty much tests your faith. You just pretty much need to enjoy life every day.”

He’s undergone monthly tests since the surgery.

“They caught it early,” he said. “I had it removed and then you go through the monthly follow-up check-ups to make sure it hasn’t come back or anything.”

The understated McDonald paused, then smiled.

“I’m just thankful for the fact that it hasn’t,” he said.

He shares an Indiana connection with Colts offensive guard/tackle Joe Reitz, who played at Hamilton Southeastern High School, and tight end Jack Doyle, a prep product of Cathedral. McDonald played his high school ball at Warren Central and in college at Indiana University.

His favorite player growing up was retired center Jeff Saturday, whom he’s never met.

“I was like, ‘Man, it would be cool to play for the Colts (some day) and stay home,’” McDonald said of his high school days. “I finally got a chance to come back. It’s a dream come true really.”

Undrafted out of I.U. in 2012, he signed with Miami before a 2013 stint with Carolina. Seattle placed him on the practice squad after appearing in his first two NFL games, then he was released on Nov. 26. The Colts signed him on Dec. 2.

When it was time to phone his parents with the exciting news, his mother, Jerrilyn Carter, thought he was putting her on.

“That was probably one of the funnest things I’ve done, calling my parents and letting them know I was actually coming back here,” McDonald said. “My mom actually couldn’t believe me because I joke around with her. She’s like, ’You’re lying. You’re lying.’ ‘No, mom, for real.’

“She had been praying about me being closer to home and it was obviously an answer to her prayers.”

He was inactive for Sunday’s 25-24 road win at Cleveland. No matter how long his stay, he’ll enjoy each day, a life lesson understood from cancer.

“It’s a massive blessing,” he said.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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