CLEVELAND -- North Olmsted High School senior Samer Badi was honored with the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Courage Award at the 18th Greater Cleveland Sports Awards at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel Downtown Wednesday.
Badi is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments for Stage IV Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) in the outpatient center.
“It’s really great to see that I’m receiving some recognition for what I do,” Badi said in an exclusive interview with WKYC.com. “I like to think that what I’m doing is just part of my character, and to see that people appreciate that is just great.”
During the preparations for his senior season, Badi felt pain in his jaw. After multiple trips to the doctor failed to diagnose his symptoms, Badi’s pain became unbearable and he was rushed to the emergency room, where a tennis ball-sized mass was discovered in his right parotid gland.
The mass proved to be cancerous in the connective tissues.
Despite having such a rare form of cancer that he has not met anyone else with his condition, Badi remains positive because of his support system.
“It’s not about finding someone who’s been through what I’ve been through, exactly,” Badi said. “There are lots of people who have gone through what I’ve gone through, maybe not with the same disease, maybe not with the same, exact treatments, but it doesn’t even have to be someone who has gone through a cancer diagnosis. It could be the doctors. It could be the nurses. It doesn’t have to be someone who has had the disease.
“I like to think I have a really good support system. My girlfriend is a huge part of it. She’s wonderful. My family, my close friends, all of North Olmsted High School, I know there’s a lot of people who I can go to when I need it.”
Despite being unable to play because of the treatments, Badi was on the sidelines to support his North Olmsted teammates during the games.
And that gave him a sense of normalcy despite battling for his life.
“I actually live my day-to-day life pretty normally,” Badi said. “I go to school. During football season, I would go to the practices and go to the games. Granted, I wasn’t able to participate, but it was just nice being able to do what I used to do. I do try to make my life as normal as possible.
“It was amazing to be able to spend team dinners with them and pre games. Yeah, it was awesome. I loved it.”