Trey Mancini thought he was just getting older.
The 28-year-old, then 27, found himself a bit more tired than usual in spring training in February, but assumed nothing was out of the ordinary. Batting practices as well as outfield and infield drills exhausted the Orioles outfielder and first basemen, but it was easy for Mancini to chalk that up to age.
Of course, there was something seriously wrong with Mancini, far more than anyone could’ve known.
Mancini wrote an article in The Players’ Tribune on Tuesday and said he was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer. He underwent surgery to remove the tumor in early March and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
“Looking back, like I said in the article, I didn’t think it was anything outlandish or crazy at all,” Mancini said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “I know in the article I had said I thought I was getting a little older, and I’m still kind of young I guess, generally. But I was like, ‘I’m not 21 like I was seven years ago, maybe I’m getting a little more tired when I’m taking 10 swings in the batting cage. I felt a little more lethargic.”
He took a blood test when he arrived in Sarasota, Florida for spring training as a part of the team’s physical, when he was told that his iron levels were a bit low and the team required another test.
The original thought was that Mancini had celiac disease, since colon cancer is so rare for people Mancini’s age. Then he was told that it was, in fact, colon cancer after original procedure concluded.
“If I didn’t have a blood test or I didn’t play baseball or have the medical care that we do with the Orioles, I would not have caught this in time,” Mancini said. “I feel pretty confident it would’ve progressed another stage, which obviously would’ve been pretty devastating.”
Mancini started chemotherapy, which will last for six months, on April 13.
The turnaround was quick, as the tumor was diagnosed on March 6 and removed on March 12. While Mancini was in surgery that day Major League Baseball suspended operations for the 2020 season.
“I woke up and I remember my whole family, my mom and sisters, told me they had shutdown spring training and no one knew what was going on. That was after the, ‘Are you OK?’ They told me that was going on. It was just a weird day, it’s been a weird couple months for all of us, too.”
Mancini now spends his days working out, as his goal during chemotherapy is to maintain his weight. He works out at home with dumbbells and resistance bands. They’re light workouts, but it’s what Mancini can do right now.
The other part of his life is spent going back and forth to chemotherapy every other week, something he has to do alone due to the coronavirus pandemic.
His chemo has taken a bit out of him on some days, Mancini said, but he’s feeling well for about 10 days in-between treatments otherwise. He started his treatment two weeks ago and goes every other Monday.
There are some side effects, like the fact that one drug he is given makes him particularly sensitive to cold for 24 hours, but otherwise, he’s doing as well as possible right now.
“I’m still learning and it could change as it goes a little bit, I could get a little bit more serious side effects, I could tolerate it better throughout,” Mancini said. “The first round went really well and better than expected.”
Despite his chemotherapy, Mancini is trying to keep as high of spirits as he can. His article in The Players’ Tribune was titled “I Am So Lucky.”
His story has been somewhat-known for a little under two months now, but Mancini selflessly wanted to wait until the time was right to tell it, when he could start his treatment without everyone knowing what was going on.
“I wanted a little bit of time to pass and I also didn’t want to take away from everything going on in the world with COVID-19,” Mancini said. “That was a huge reason why I waited like a month and half after my surgery to really come out with it. There’s been so many people going through tough times and suffering, so many people have lost family members and it’s just thrown the world for a loop. I just wanted to stay out of the headlines for a little bit because of that.”
Still, Mancini’s main goal is to return to the baseball field — though he said that if baseball happens in 2020, it will likely be without him involved.
Mancini had a career season on the field in 2019 and batted .291 with 35 home runs, numbers he hopes to be able to replicate one his chemotherapy ends.
And as for a return? Mancini has no doubt in his mind.
“I fully expect to make a full recovery and be back.”
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