Shockley has been busy his entire high school career playing football, baseball and basketball. This past year, he played part of basketball season with what was initially diagnosed as “Runner’s Knee” and all of the baseball season this past spring with pain in his right knee. As it worsened, another diagnosis was warranted – and it was a stunner. Shockley was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
Approximately 400 children and teens are diagnosed with osteosarcoma each year, according to Diane Vaughan, senior development officer for AFLAC Cancer Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta where Shockley receives treatment.
A college prospect as a long snapper on kicks and the starting wide receiver for the Wolverine football team, Shockley, not surprising to those close to him, responded to the news with an attitude to overcome his disease. “I don’t consider myself brave,” he said. “It’s either you do what you have to or you don’t. If you don’t, then your chances of surviving aren’t very good. You have to do it. There’s no choice.”
Upon diagnosis, Shockley completed 10 weeks of successful chemotherapy treatment at AFLAC. In August, a world renowned orthopedic oncologist, Dr. David K. Monson, performed a rare operation on Shockley, removing the diseased bones (8 inches of the femur and an inch of the tibia) and replacing them with an endoprosthesis and cadaver bone. To date, Shockley has successfully completed 2 of 18 weeks of post surgery chemotherapy at AFLAC while continuing to attend school.
Shockley said that staying positive is tantamount to winning his battle. “Some days you get down and you get tired and you ask yourself why did this happen to me and not somebody else … but then you think you’ll get through it. You’ll be fine and you’ll be a better person in the end. You’ve got to stay positive,” he said.
Shockley’s strong will and
determination make him stand out to his coaches and peers. “We tell our players all the time that failure is not getting knocked down, it’s the inability to get back up,” said Walker Assistant Athletic Director and Head Varsity Football Coach Ben Williamson.
“His experience athletically adds so much to that inner strength to handle adversity and ability to wake up every morning with a determination to fight, to stay positive. He understands he’s going to have bad days just like teams have bad days and players have bad days, but he has the ability to put that behind and wake up every morning knowing that he can make it through,” said Williamson who coached Shockley for four years.
“Scott has that relentlessness. He’s modeling every day what it is to be successful by showing, even if you knock me down today I’m going to get back up tomorrow and be even stronger,” Williamson added. “As a coach, you wished you had 40 kids like (Scott) because you’d beat most of the teams on your schedule every week.”
“Scott is a leader for us,” stated head Walker Varsity Baseball Coach Mike Brady.
Considered one of the top four pitchers for the Walker baseball team by his sophomore year, Shockley earned Walker’s Pitcher of the Year award for the last two years. He played an important role when the team went to final four state playoffs in 2010 with a combined record for his sophomore and junior year of 9-2, 58 strikeouts, .320 batting average and 2.5 ERA. Described by Brady as “a bulldog on the mound,” colleges have already inquired about Shockley as a prospective pitcher.
“If there’s anybody who can be that light for our guys to see somebody overcome adversity, we believe it’s Scott with his strong will power. He is that guy who will battle and nothing will keep him down,” Brady said.
“Scott’s telling me he wants to make it back. He’s said, ‘Coach, I’m going do everything I can to get in shape to come back,’ which really excites me,” Brady said.
For Shockley, his biggest challenge is everyday tasks. “You take for granted getting up and walking downstairs or getting a bowl (of cereal) for breakfast. I can’t do that so it’s tough. I can’t do everyday tasks that normal people can do,” Shockley said.
Shockley expects to be in a wheelchair for 3 to 5 months and then transition to crutches. He takes physical therapy to help with muscle atrophy and to keep the knee bent to avoid scar tissue.
His basketball coach, Leigh Block, former assistant athletic director at Walker School, also described Shockley as “a bulldog.” Now in his first year as athletic director at Lancaster Country Day in Lancaster, PA, Block said, “Scott has always maintained a healthy sense of perspective. He knew that he had to sacrifice personal stats and glory to make our basketball team better. He knew that each coach had valued his contributions, and he was able to contribute to all three programs because he never lost sight of the importance of balancing his many commitments. He is even-keeled, and this healthy perspective is what will get him through this challenge.
“(Scott) faced his challenges as a student and an athlete head on and realistically; he’s doing the same thing now,” Block said.
Shockley attributes his healing to support of family and friends and his faith in God. “I appreciate life for what it is. There’s a lot more out there than just school and sports and things like that. It’s given me a greater appreciation for life. Definitely,” said son of Terriann and Steve Shockley of Marietta.
Shockley said he might take a year off and travel before he goes to college. He is contemplating a career in sports medicine. After 10 years, he will be considered officially cured if there is no recurrence.
“You have to do what you have to do to get better. That’s what I keep telling myself. I’ll get through this and I’ll be fine and I’ll get better in the end,” Scott said.
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. AFLAC is the largest childhood cancer and blood disorders program in the country, with over 2,500 children and teens treated this year alone. For more information visit www.aflaccancercenter.org.