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Cancer Survivor Caleb Frye Beats the Odds

Frye Caleb 177 154pxAfter 71 years of inactivity, Bluefield College football resumed on Saturday, August 25, 2012, when the Rams took the field to play the University of Pikeville in BC’s first intercollegiate football game in modern history.

And, while the final score -- a 42-28 loss -- may not have been a win in the scorebooks, it was indeed a victorious day for BC. It was also a victorious day for Caleb Frye, a freshman kicker for the Rams who has a revival football story of his own. Frye endured a war with cancer that led him on a long road of recovery, wondering all the while if he would survive, let alone play football again.

A native of Glade Spring, Virginia, Frye loved sports at a very young age. He was a member of a Little Rebel pee-wee football team by age seven, and he also played soccer, basketball and baseball later as a kid.

But, before he had even finished second grade, Frye had developed a mysterious cough and cold sweats during the night. Soon after, prompted by a pain in his upper right leg, the family discovered swollen lymph nodes near his groin. After numerous visits to doctors and multiple tests, they learned what they had feared most.
“I knew I was really sick, but at the same time I didn’t know what was really going on,” said Frye. “I don’t think we realized just how serious it was.”

Diagnosed in May 1999 with large cell lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, Frye began the first of 20 sessions of chemotherapy treatments that would last a year and a regiment with Prednisone, three times a day for 30 days. “I had to sit there for hours to let it go through the process,” said Frye about his chemo treatments at Brenner Children’s Hospital at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“I had to take high dosages, because the cancer is a four-stage cancer, and I was already at stage three.”

But, that’s when God began to make His presence known, said Frye, and to show that He had good things in store for him down the road.

“After just the first treatment, 90 percent of my cancer was gone,” said Frye, who made his first profession of faith at age six. “That was a miracle from God. After just five treatments, all the cancer was gone. That just shows you the power that God can have.”
Cancer free, Frye returned to sports, focusing on football and baseball at Patrick Henry High School, where he earned four letters in football for the Rebels and was named twice to the Hogoheegee All-District team as a placekicker.

“After high school, I pretty much thought I was done with sports. I figured I would just focus on academics and get a good education,” said Frye, who enrolled at Virginia Highlands Community College after graduating from high school in 2010. “But, one random day, I get a call from Coach (Mike) Compton (BC’s assistant coach, who coached Frye in high school). He asked me if I wanted to come to Bluefield and kick again.” 

Frye said he checked out the Bluefield College web site to see if the school offered a major that would suit his passion to become a pediatric oncologist, and soon after with his two-year associate’s degree from Virginia Highlands he became a part of the BC family.
“I know this is a God thing,” said Frye about the circumstances that led him to Bluefield College and back to football. “This is a great opportunity for me to share my testimony. I’m still not quite sure why I had cancer, but I’d like to think that God did it so I could some day minister to other kids who are sick like I was and to help and encourage their families, as well.”

With plans to study biology with a pre-med emphasis at BC for two years before applying to medical school, Frye said he’s thankful to not only be back on the football field, but a part of an historic Rams team. With so much focus on practice and game preparation, he said he knows it’s something he’ll appreciate even more over time.

“I’m just blessed to be able to step back on the football field,” said Frye. “It really hit me when we jogged out onto the football field for that first game, and I saw my parents in the stands. I was overwhelmed. After what I went through 13 years ago, sitting in a hospital bed, clinging to life, wondering if I was going to get out of this. Now, being able to step back on the football field and have God give me the opportunity to keep playing is just an awesome blessing.”

Knowing cancer can return, Frye gets annual check-ups that for 13 years now have shown him to be cancer free. He gives the glory to God, he said, and tries not to think about a reoccurrence, but instead on the opportunities God has given him to play football, help others, and share his testimony.

“Overall, I’m just thankful to be healed,” said Frye, “and to be able to share my testimony and to tell people, ‘See, I had cancer, and now I’m out on a field playing football again.’”