Lamar Dawson tweeted chilling words months ago. He was in the hospital and being tested for Leukemia. The tweet came as a shock to most, who had no idea that Dawson had been dealing with symptoms that alarmed him and his family.
After competing in the Chicago city championship in November, Dawson noticed he was abnormally tired. The next day, when playing in a “Turkey Bowl” with family, the severe fatigue returned. That combined with shortness of breath that was strange for an athlete in superior shape led him to seek medical attention.
He had tests run to figure out what was wrong. Leukemia was one of the first tests, but thankfully came back negative. Dawson still didn’t know what was wrong.
”It was scary,” Dawson said. “I was in the hospital. I just didn’t know what was going on. It was just that the blood levels were weird. It was kind of scary. I didn’t know if I would play football again or if I’d still have my scholarship. So it was pretty scary.”
The doctors looking at Dawson were eventually able to diagnose the problem. Dawson was suffering from aplastic anemia, a condition in which the bone marrow does not make enough new blood cells.
This disease is serious. Untreated, it can cause rapid death. The good news is there are multiple treatment options that are affective. A bone marrow transplant is one option, as is medication. Dawson’s doctors chose to go the medication route.
What does all of this mean for Dawson’s future at Syracuse?
”I’ve been taking this medicine,” Dawson said. “It takes a few months to kick in. I’ve been talking a lot with coach (Fred) Reed and coach (DeAndre) Smith a lot. Basically, if I’m ready to go I can enroll in July. If I’m not, I can defer my enrollment. I still have to sign next week.
”I would have to enroll in January. I would miss the whole season this year, but I could come back and play in 2015. I would still be a freshman. They said it depends on how I’m looking in May. I might just have to stay home and train here and stuff. I would be ready for winter workouts when I get up there in January.”
The good news is, his long-term prognosis is very good. Once the medicine does its job, Dawson will be “normal” so to speak. He will be able to play football and live without taking medication routinely. Dawson will return to every day living without any complications.
For now, working out is difficult for Dawson. He still has fatigue issues, and cannot train or workout as long as he would without the disease. This is the reason why he will not be taking his official visit to Syracuse. He is not allowed to travel due to the illness.
Dawson insists whether he enrolls in July or January 2015 that he is not opening his recruitment back up. The support of the Syracuse coaching staff has meant a lot through this process.
”Syracuse could have easily replaced me,” Dawson said. “They could have found another player who wanted to commit to Syracuse. I could’ve just been thrown to the curb because I’m a liability. I was sick. They just really showed that they’re a loyal school and they do what’s right.
”Once I was talked to coach (Scott) Shafer, and he told me just to worry about getting better, that if they had to bring me in July they would bring me in July, or if they had to bring me in January they would bring me in January. Just giving me as much time as I need to recover. That showed me a lot about their character.”
With Syracuse sticking by him, Dawson can now focus on getting better and getting back into football shape.
”I’m just really excited,” Dawson said. “I’m very excited. I really wasn’t sure, and it’s just a weight off my shoulders. Now I can just worry about getting healthy first and everything else will come second. I don’t have to worry about trying to force myself to get ready in time.
"I can take my time and still enroll in January if I have to. I think it’s just a great opportunity at Syracuse.”