JENKS, Oklahoma –
Jackson Lilly was just a Jenks Trojan trying to find some playing time.
This week, he’s got his moment to shine for the whole world to see after his teammates celebrated with the ringing of the bell to be cancer free.
“I just thought it was something our community would see, then everybody started commenting and it started going everywhere,” said Lilly.
His story was seen on Bleacher Report, network news, ESPN, you name it. Lilly’s triumph of defeating cancer is everywhere. A tweet from strength coach Jordan Johnson went viral with over 10,000 retweets and 50,000 likes.
The build-up to this moment started nearly a year ago.
“My mission trip during Spring Break, I just thought I was sick and I came home and they said something was going on in my intestinal tract,” Lilly said.
After surgery a week later, they told him he had Stage 4 lymphoma.
“As soon as I got the news, just in shock. Didn’t know what to do, what to say,” said Trojan Teammate Kaleb Peters.
“I just ready to help him out, do anything when he got back. It’s just really sad,” said Teammate Ethan Paul.
Lilly didn’t quit. He fought cancer bravely with motivation from Head Coach Allan Trimble who is dealing with his own battle with ALS and help from friends.
“We decided to shave our heads, just to do those things to help him fit in,” said Peters.
“He’d text me when he was hungry and I know his favorite food is Taco Bueno so I’d go get him a 10 dollar box,” said Paul.
With all the help and encouragement, Lilly kept fighting and won.
“That last day of chemo I knew I was on the right path,” he said.
“He rang that PR Bell over there and that’s probably the best PR in Jenks history and I don’t think anybody’s ever going to beat that,” Peters said.
“It’s special because when you hear about cancer you think it’s a terrible thing, but when you get it you see all the effects it has on everybody, not just yourself and it definitely gives you a new perspective,” said Lilly.
But the journey isn’t over. He’s returning to the football field, not only for the love of the sport but to encourage his teammates to never give up.
Paul: 14:32:02 “Honestly, I didn’t think he wanted to come back to football, but when he came back, I would not be able to do that so I really look up to him,” Paul said.
“At first it’s pretty emotional, but know you look back and I’m pretty proud of it of what I’ve accomplished and I hope that I inspire people to just know that they can get through tough times,” Lilly said.