Texans WR John Metchie III Diagnosed With Leukemia & 25 Other Athletes Who Battled Cancer

Texans WR John Metchie III Diagnosed With Leukemia and 25 Other Athletes Who Battled Cancer

The Houston Texans recently learned their rookie wide receiver John Metchie III has been diagnosed with leukemia and will likely miss his entire first season. The announcement came on Sunday and resulted in the Texans placing Metchie III on the active/non-football illness list. 

While this is terrible news for the rookie and his new team, there is good news because Metchie III was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) – the most curable form of leukemia. He is expected to make a full recovery and should be back on the field at some point. 

“I am currently receiving great medical care, am in good spirits and I expect to make a recovery at a later point in time. As a result of this diagnosis, I will likely not be playing football this season. My main focus will be on my health and recovery,” said Metchie III in a statement. 

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John Metchie III Isn’t the Only Athlete to Battle Cancer

Texans WR John Metchie III Diagnosed With Leukemia & 25 Other Athletes Who Battled Cancer
@metchieiii / Instagram

John Metchie III was drafted by the Texans in the second round (44th overall) of the 2022 NFL Draft. In fact, he was also drafted by the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League (CFL) – though he decided to pursue his career in the NFL. Unfortunately, that career will have to wait.

When he does return to the field, he’s expected to make a big difference for the Texans. Coming off a productive season at the University of Alabama, Metchie III had 96 catches for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior. He was the ninth receiver selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. 

Being diagnosed with leukemia is far from good news, but Metchie III can take a deep breath knowing his form of leukemia is highly treatable and curable. While we wish him a safe and speedy recovery, let’s take a look at 25 other famous athletes who were forced to battle cancer.

25. Novlene Williams-Mills

Novlene Williams-Mills is a retired Jamaican track and field athlete who specialized in the 400-meter races and 4 x 400-meter relays. She won four silver medals and one gold medal at the World Championships, and three silver medals and one bronze medal at the Olympics. She was diagnosed with breast cancer ahead of the 2012 Olympics and still won a silver medal. 

24. Mark Herzlich

Mark Herzlich is a retired linebacker who spent six seasons in the NFL, all of which with the New York Giants, between 2011 and 2016. He was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2009 and missed the entire 2009 college football season. Of course, he returned the following year and while he went undrafted in 2011, the Giants gave him a shot. 

23. Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj Singh is a retired all-rounder cricketer who represented India in all formats of the game. Among his many accomplishments is winning seven Player of the Series awards in the ODI format. He was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his lung in 2011 and received treatment in the United States before returning to his team in 2012. It was quite the swift comeback. 

22. Scott Hamilton

Scott Hamilton is a retired American figure skater who won four consecutive gold medals at the World Championships in men’s singles between 1981 and 1984. To top it off, Hamilton also won a gold medal in men’s singles at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1997 and a brain tumor in 2004 – which he received several treatments for.

21. Billy Mayfair

Billy Mayfair is an American golfer who turned professional in 1988 and continues to play on the PGA Tour to this day. He has five pro wins on the tour with his best finish in a major coming at the 2001 The Open Championship – he finished tied for third. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2006, but returned to the links not long after. He was recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 2019. 

20. Nené Hilario

Nené Hilario is a retired center who played 17 seasons in the NBA – during that time, he averaged 11.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game. In 2008, he had a malignant tumor removed in his testicle, causing him to miss half of the season. He responded with a career-best season the following year and continued that success for the next six seasons.

19. Carlos Carrasco

Carlos Carrasco is a starting pitcher who currently plays for the New York Mets. He has spent 13 seasons in the league, accumulating a 99-82 record in 273 games played. He was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in 2019, but made a return to the diamond just a few months later after receiving treatment. He went on to win the 2019 AL Comeback Player of the Year award. 

18. Jessica Breland

Jessica Breland is a professional basketball player who has spent nine seasons in the WNBA, though she’s currently a free agent. She averaged 7.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game in her career. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2009 while playing college basketball. She missed the 2009 season, but returned the following year. 

17. Caris LeVert

Caris LeVert is a guard-forward who currently plays for the Indiana Pacers. He has spent the past six seasons in the NBA and has averaged 14.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.3 blocks per game. During a routine MRI after being traded in 2021, LeVert was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, a cancer of the kidney. He returned to the court several months later.

16. Trey Mancini

Trey Mancini is an outfielder and designated hitter who currently plays for the Baltimore Orioles. He made his debut with the team in 2016 and had his breakout season in 2017. After three productive seasons, Mancini missed the entire 2020 season after being diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer after removing a malignant tumor from his colon a month prior. He returned the following year and continues to be productive at the plate. 

15. Shannon Miller

Shannon Miller is a retired American gymnast who represented Team USA at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics – winning two gold medals, two silver medals, and three bronze medals in the process. She also won five gold medals, three silver medals, and one bronze medal at the World Championships. She was diagnosed with germ cell ovarian cancer in 2011, but beat it after several cycles of chemo. 

14. Mike Lowell

Mike Lowell is a retired third baseman who played 13 seasons in the MLB, most notably with the Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins. He had a .279 batting average with 1,619 hits, 223 home runs, 952 RBIs, and 771 runs scored. Lowell was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1999 and missed nearly two months of play, but eventually recovered and went on to play 11 more seasons in the major leagues. 

13. Andres Galarraga

Andres Galarraga is a retired first baseman who played 19 seasons in the MLB between 1985 and 2004. During his career, he recorded a .288 batting average with 2,333 hits, 399 home runs, 1,425 RBIs, and 1,195 runs scored. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1999, but returned the following year. His cancer returned in 2004 near the end of his career, be he again recovered and returned to play.

12. Josh Bidwell

Josh Bidwell is a retired punter who played 10 seasons in the NFL – most notably with the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had 31,710 career punt yards and a career 42.7 yards per punt. In 1999, not long after being drafted by the Packers, Bidwell was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He later earned the starting punter job ahead of the 2000 season.

11. Eric Davis

Eric Davis is a retired outfielder who played 17 seasons in the MLB between 1984 and 2001 – most notably with the Cincinnati Reds. He had a .269 career batting average with 1,430 hits, 282 home runs, 934 RBIs, 938 runs scored, and 349 stolen bases. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1997, but continued to play throughout treatment. He then had one of his best statistical seasons in 1998 before retiring several years later.

10. Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova is a retired Czech-American tennis player who turned professional in 1974 and retired in 2006. During that time, she had a 1,442-219 singles record with 167 singles titles (most in the Open Era) and 18 Grand Slam wins. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, several years after her playing career ended. Still, she attempted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro several months later. 

9. Edna Campbell

Edna Campbell is a retired professional basketball player who played seven seasons in the WNBA, most notably with the Sacramento Monarchs. She averaged 7.1 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.6 steals, and 0.2 blocks per game. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, but decided to continue playing through treatment – earning her several awards and recognitions.

8. Saku Koivu

Saku Koivu is a retired Finnish center who played 18 seasons in the NHL – 13 with the Montreal Canadiens and five with the Anaheim Ducks. He finished his career with 255 goals and 577 assists (832 points) in 1,124 games played. He was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma in 2001 and only played three games that season. He returned the following season and had a career year. 

7. James Conner

James Conner is an American running back who will be entering his sixth season in the NFL and second with the Arizona Cardinals after four years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has recorded 4,392 yards from scrimmage and 44 total touchdowns since entering the league. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015 while recovering from a torn MCL during his college football days.

6. Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling is a retired starting pitcher who played 20 seasons in the MLB between 1988 and 2007. During that time, he had a 216-146 record in 569 games played, winning three World Series and being named to six All-Star rosters. In 2014, nearly seven years after his retirement, Schilling was diagnosed with throat cancer as a result of using smokeless tobacco for several decades. 

5. Phil Kessel

Phil Kessel is an American right winger who has spent the past 16 seasons in the NHL – he’s currently a free agent. The two-time Stanley Cup winner has scored 399 goals and dished 557 assists (956 points) in 1,204 career games played. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer just a few months after being drafted, but was cancer-free just one week later after surgery. 

4. John Cullen

John Cullen is a retired center who played 10 seasons in the NHL, scoring 187 goals and 363 assists (550 points) in 621 career games played. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1997 after an x-ray found a baseball-sized tumor in his chest. He missed the entire 1997-98 season and while he made a brief return the following year, he eventually decided to call it quits.

3. Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong is a former road racing cyclist who is both regarded as a sports icon and major disappointment. Between 1999 and 2005, he won the Tour de France seven times in a row – the streak occurred several years after he was diagnosed with potentially-fatal testicular cancer. This won the hearts of many, but things changed when doping allegations overshadowed his achievements.

2. Jon Lester

Jon Lester is a retired starting pitcher who played 16 seasons in the MLB – most notably with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. He finished his career with a 200-117 record in 452 games played, winning three World Series – two with the Red Sox and one with the Cubs. He was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2006, but later returned and won the 2007 World Series.

1. Mario Lemieux

Mario Lemieux is a Hall of Fame center who played 17 seasons in the NHL – all of which with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played in 915 career games, scoring 690 goals and dishing 1,033 assists (1,723 points). He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1993, but continued to play through the treatment – not only playing, but dominating as he continued to set the league on fire.

What’s Next for John Metchie III?

Texans WR John Metchie III Diagnosed With Leukemia & 25 Other Athletes Who Battled Cancer
@metchieiii / Instagram

John Metchie III is one of the nearly two million individuals diagnosed with some form of cancer every year. His diagnosis, acute promyelocytic leukemia, occurs in roughly 1 in 250,000 people in the United States and accounts for nearly 10% of all acute myeloid leukemia cases in the US.

While his diagnosis is highly treatable and curable in most cases, the rookie receiver will have to take time away from football – likely missing his entire rookie season. It’s not the ideal scenario for someone with as much promise as Metchie III, but we’ll see him in action soon enough.

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For now, we wish John Metchie III a safe and speedy recovery. We understand how difficult of a time this must be, but he can rest easy knowing he has the entire NFL community behind his back – including teammates, opponents, coaches, front office brass, fans, analysts, and more.

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