By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/2/17
Brendan Clark said he doesn’t know how to fully thank his friends, and the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and lacrosse community for supporting him while battling a brain tumor.
“It (the support) has been overwhelming and I am speechless,” said the senior lacrosse standout. “I can’t say enough to thank you all.
“Really, that’s what’s driven me every single say to keep a smile on my face and make it through. There is a youth team in Massachusetts that I never heard of that donated (to my Go Fund me page) and wrote, ‘Brendan, you are in our prayers and thoughts.’ It’s been mesmerizing how much everybody has come together to show support for somebody, some who don’t even know me.
“I would feel hopeless without the support of my friends. My thanks go out to anyone that has continued to support me in this journey. They truly are the reason I push forward and stay positive.”
Clark’s journey the past six weeks has been most treacherous and painful, but the progress he has made since undergoing surgery to remove about 90 percent of a brain tumor that partially lodged into his cerebellum has been remarkable.
Clark was so sick in late January that he had to vomit for hours one morning and suffered from severe migraines for several weeks before an MRI revealed his tumor was pushing on a cyst so large it was pressing on the fourth ventricle, cutting off the pathway for spinal fluid to flow from his brain and through his spine.
Clark, a four-year starter and Wagner College signee, had the tumor removed 16 days ago at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia by Dr. David Andrews, after being transferred from Reading Hospital.
He has since recovered more quickly than he had ever imagined.
Although Clark still has to go back to possibly receive undergo radiation treatment, he hopes to play lacrosse later this season as Springside Chestnut Hill Academy looks to be a factor in the rugged Inter-Ac League with a team that has many Division I signees and commits.
“My parents asked me for a short-term goal and I said I want to play lacrosse again … next month,” said Clark, of a conversation he had 2 weeks ago after the tumor was removed.
Clark’s doctor told him Wednesday he would need to wait six more weeks to play lacrosse, but he is pleased to be able to spend some time on the field with his friends and teammates as the Blue Devils gear for their March 14 opener at St. Joseph’s University vs. mighty Hill Academy (Ontario), last year’s top-rated team.
What’s more, Clark said he will return to school on Monday for at least a period as he builds back his stamina and strength for studies. Clark, though, is used to handling adversity.
Since he was 10, Clark has suffered from migraines because it’s believed the tumor began growing then. He said he has, since then, had to go to the school nurse regularly for headaches.
“Once I was off medications (last week) I told my parents that it was first time n 10 years that I felt nothing (no pains) in my head.”
Clark – who now has a titanium plate in place of some bone in his skull – made a trip to the doctor’s office Monday and was told he will go back for a follow-up in about 2 months to decide the on the next steps to terminate the residual tumor.
Clark’s fight to recover has created a major swirl of support in the lacrosse community and beyond. His Go Fund Me page raised over $37,000 to offset medical bills and travel expenses.
Clark specifically wished to thank his friends and family from the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy community.
Amazingly, Clark drives 65 miles twice a day from his Wyomissing home outside Reading. He has dyslexia and found Springside CHA through the lax community and his club coach, Billy McKinney at TripleH and is grateful for the school and the educational support it has provided him. What’s more, he has been able to play high-level lacrosse and earn a spot on a Division I school knows for its academics.
This year Springside CHA’s lineup includes experience and talent that Clark believes can help the Devils make some noise in the region.
“I have high hopes,” he said. “If we come together as a team we could surprise the entire conference.”
One of Clark’s best friends and teammates at SCHA, Zach Messerle, said the school community has been there through every step for his buddy.
“All of us, from the lacrosse team to friends across all grades, came to visit him everyday,” Messerle said. “We actually packed his room with so many people that the nurses had to kick some people out. He loved to see faces, he didn’t care who it was, he just wanted to entertain people.
“The community was hit pretty hard. A lot of people care for Brendan and it was good to see everybody come together to support him. I think this whole situation put the bigger picture into perspective for a lot of people. It brought all of us closer together and we want to play for Brendan because he can’t play.
“To us it gave a bigger meaning to the word ‘family’ which is one we often use during our season. It made us appreciate the chance we have to play, and we all can’t wait to have Brendan back on the field with us. As for winning and losing, we set our goals high for this year and we are determined to accomplish this. As Brendan would want, we’re going to continue to push for greatness even with this happening.”