Kansas City-area standout channels baseball experience to fight - KCTV5 News

Kansas City-area standout channels baseball experience to fight cancer

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Facing the biggest fight of his life, Caleb Ostronic is drawing on lessons learned playing baseball. He is battling a deadly form of cancer with the love of his dad and the support of his baseball hero. (KCTV5) Facing the biggest fight of his life, Caleb Ostronic is drawing on lessons learned playing baseball. He is battling a deadly form of cancer with the love of his dad and the support of his baseball hero. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

Caleb Ostronic has been one of the Kansas City area's best high school baseball players.

The Eudora senior had committed to play college ball at Central Methodist. But, instead of working out at the baseball diamond, Ostronic spent the last two months fighting for his life at The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

In January, the 18-year-old was diagnosed with a deadly form of leukemia. In the blink of an eye, he went from a happy high schooler to a full-time cancer patient.

"There's nothing I can change," Ostronic said. "I'm taking it one day at a time, step by step."

"He's handling it better than I am," said Bill Ostronic looking at his son lying in bed at The University of Kansas Hospital.

Caleb Ostronic's mother died in a car accident 19 months ago and his relationship with his father is incredibly close.

"I don't think there are words to explain how much I love my son, and what I'd do for him," Bill Ostronic said.

Baseball has been a strong bond between father and son, and baseball is helping Caleb Ostronic in his fight against cancer. The battering he's taken behind the plate as a catcher taught him to fight through pain and fatigue.

"In sports, you learn to get through things quickly, because if you don't, you're stuck there. You can't progress in anything you do unless you have a positive mindset with it," Caleb Ostronic said. "And that's one thing baseball's taught me a lot."

His doctor, Dr. Anurag Singh, agrees.

"That really is important because this is an aggressive cancer and it can make you sick very quickly. So if you are good and strong to begin with, that helps get through the chemo," Singh said.

While Caleb Ostronic has been separated from his friends, he did receive support from a fellow Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.

"Salvy tweeted at me," Caleb Ostronic said with a big smile on his face, "He was giving me his support and they brought up a signed ball from Sal and a pin full of dirt from the field. It was a nice surprise."

While Caleb Ostronic trusts his doctors, at times, the enormity of his battle catches up with him.

"Laying there at night," he points out. "You just kind of think 'I'm stuck here,' that's the toughest part."

But through the darkness, Caleb Ostronic has discovered a ray of light.

"The support people I don't even know has given me has been incredible," he said. "That's really made me feel good."

In the next several weeks, he will receive the bone marrow transplant that can save his life. He will then spend the next month or so completely sealed off from the outside world. 

While he worries that his baseball career could be over, thanks to the strength he's taken from the game, he is determined to beat this cancer.

While Caleb Ostronic has the love of his dad and stepmother, it will take a lot more to save his life. He needs a bone marrow transplant.

Around 70-percent of people must find a matching donor outside of their family. In the old days, donating bone marrow was an involved procedure but not anymore.

Now, it is basically as simple as giving blood. All you have to do is sign up with groups like “Be The Match.” They'll send you a kit. You swab around your mouth, then send the cotton swabs back in. It only takes seconds, but it can save a life.

For free information on becoming a bone marrow donor, click here.

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