These were supposed to be some of the best days of Dorian Rodrigue’s teenage years.
If things had gone the way Rodrigue had planned, he’d be with his John Curtis teammates Thursday when they begin their chase for a Class 3A baseball state championship.
And he’d be counting down the days until May 22 when his senior class graduates. Then he’d be preparing to head off and pursue his dream of playing college baseball.
Instead, the senior outfielder is awaiting test results to see what’s next for him in his battle with a form of cancer.
For most 19-year olds, that seems unfair.
But Rodrigue isn’t your typical 19-year old.
He’s mentally strong, just as the #DStrong hashtag circulating on Twitter for him suggests.
“Honestly, it’s not that tough,” Rodrigue said. “I just see it as just another obstacle that I have to overcome.”
It was about a month ago when life threw Rodrigue a curveball. That’s when a lump first formed on the right side of his neck. He spent a week in the Children’s Hospital, and, on April 19 was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare form of cancer that affects the immune system.
He had surgery on Tuesday to have the mass removed and it sent to MD Anderson Cancer Center to be analyzed.
“It was just like ‘bam,’ all of a sudden,” said Rachel Rodrigue, Dorian’s mom.
“There’s no feeling like hearing that about your son. You stare. You stay up. You try to sleep. You can’t sleep. You cry. You don’t cry.”
But usually, she can’t cry. At least not around Dorian. Nobody can.
It’s one of his rules.
“I don’t like negative around me, so I don’t need the crying,” said Dorian, also a starting cornerback on the football team. “If you’re going to do that, I tell you to move away from me. If you’re not positive, I don’t need you around. Positive energy just flows to everyone and makes you feel better. If someone around you is negative, it makes you depressed and you get tired and all that stuff. So I keep it positive.”
That attitude, he says, comes from his mother, a single mom who raised him and his brother, Darius, a receiver on the football team at Holy Cross.
“It’s just the three of us,” Dorian said. “You have to have positive energy when it’s a single mom. She is hard on us, but she motivates us and has always taught us that we can do anything we want to if we put our mind to it. She’s amazing.”
But it’s not just his family at home that has helped Dorian. He also credits his other family, his brothers on the Curtis baseball team.
“Every day, all day, they are telling me they are here for me and I can beat this,” Dorian said.
“Without them, I don’t know what I would do.”
Rodrigue and the other four Curtis seniors (Jacob Bordelon, Hunter Dale, A.J. Huff and Myles Washington) were recognized Monday night in a ceremony at the school. The entire team wore blue shirts with lime green (lime green is the color for lymphoma awareness) with “#DSTRONG Fight Like a Patriot” on the back.
Dale, Rodrigue’s best friend, admits it hasn’t been easy. They’ve been friends since they were 7.
“It’s tough,” Dale said. “I’m always used to going somewhere with him to do stuff. Then all of a sudden I’m visiting him in the hospital. It’s definitely not something you want to see, but to know he’s handling like he is and doesn’t want anybody being weak or crying around him makes it easier.”
It’s also taught the team some life lessons.
“You always hear people say anything can happen to anybody, but you always think ‘no not me,’ ” Dale said. “So you really don’t know until it happens to you or someone you’re good friends with. So you can’t take anything for granted. It’s brought the team even closer. We’re more of a family and we definitely want to win it for him.”
The Patriots begin their quest for a state championship at 6 p.m. Thursday when they host No. 31 Iota in the opening round of the Class 3A playoff at Mike Miley Stadium.
Curtis, the No. 2 seed, is going for its first state title since 2002. Now they have some extra motivation: winning one for Dorian.
“These guys have taken it on their shoulders,” Patriots coach Johnny Curtis said. “Since he can’t play, they are ready to push along and see how far we can get. It’s a band of brothers. By yourself, it’s going to be hard to fight, but as a team pulling together, we are going to pull together for him and support him. We feel confidence he is going to beat it.”
Dorian expects to as well.
He still plans to pursue his dream of going to college and playing baseball, a sport he began playing at Harahan Playground when he was 2.
“Whatever happens, I am prepared no matter what,” he said. “I’m just ready to get this process started.”
He’s staying positive.
He’s staying strong.