One of Anthony Rizzo's favorite phrases is "it's just baseball" when talking in front of TV cameras inside the Cubs clubhouse.

But that run-of-the-mill statement carries a different weight with him.

For Rizzo, it really is just baseball. 

Despite how some lifelong Cubs fans act, it's not life or death, something the All-Star slugger knows all too well.

Friday marked the eight-year anniversary of Rizzo receiving the news that he was in remission from cancer:

Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodkin's lymphoma in April 2008.

"It feels like a lifetime ago and then it feels like - I was talking to my girlfriend about it on the field today - I can remember it like it was yesterday," Rizzo said. "I could see it. I actually remember where I was. It's so far in the past, but I think like it was yesterday."

Friday also marked the day MLB chose to raise awareness for pediatric cancer research with "Let's go gold" T-shirts and gold wristbands and ribbons.

"Obviously really grateful today to be where I'm at," Rizzo said. "I probably think about it more today than other days."

 

Rizzo is constantly working with his foundation - run by his mother, among others - to help raise awareness and funds for cancer research. This year alone, he said they've raised more than $1 million.

He grasps the impact he is making in the community, hearing from people about the work he does off the field as much as his performance between the white lines. 

After his personal journey and the hardships he watches daily with visits to hospitals and cancer patients, Rizzo understands it's not the end of the world if he goes into a slump at the plate.

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"When you go through ruts, it's a lot easier to go through them and say, 'It's just baseball,' like I always say, because it is at the end of the day," he said. "Eight-plus years ago, I was sick, getting treatments every two weeks, trying to make sure to just survive. 

"It's things like that that put it in perspective."

Rizzo also understands the magnitude of his mere presence, thinking back to how his meeting with Jon Lester (who also beat cancer) back in 2008 helped lift his spirits.

"Whether they know my story or not, just going there and seeing them smile [is worth it]," Rizzo said. "It's cool to see their families smile too and say what a big deal it was and how much it helped them. It's all part of it.

"It's all a credit to the platform I have and we have as baseball players. Come in every day, go out and try to play hard and have the fans apprecciate that and then you do stuff over and beyond, I feel appreciative people recognize it."