Schmidt upbeat after cancer diagnosis

Clemson pitcher has form of lymphoma

by aaron brenner

abrenner@postandcourier.com

Clate Schmidt sounds positive, clinging strongly to the doctors’ beliefs as well as medical precedent that everything will turn out all right.

Still, the news Schmidt received on Monday was jarring for him, his parents Dwight and Renee Schmidt, and his younger brother Clarke.

Clate Schmidt, a pitcher for Clemson’s baseball team, has nodular sclerosis — a treatable form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the most common type of blood cancer.

“It’s just another path that God has sent me down that we didn’t plan on,” Clate Schmidt said in a series of tweets (@CSchmidt32) Tuesday afternoon. “It’s something that they caught early and it’s treatable with chemo and therapy. We are gonna be surrounded by the best of the best.”

Two months ago, Schmidt’s doctor discovered a possible problem with a lymph node. A biopsy conducted just before the ACC Tournament was inconclusive, so Schmidt returned home to Acworth, Ga., for further testing last week.

Schmidt had the tests Wednesday, and flew west Thursday to join the baseball team in Fullerton, Calif., for the NCAA Regional. He did not appear in either of Clemson’s games, both losses.

On Monday, the Schmidt family was together to hear the diagnosis.

“It could be two weeks, it could be four weeks, it could six weeks, but when you’re done, you’re done,” Dwight Schmidt said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s a great prognosis. We’ve had better days, but we’ve had worse days.”

Schmidt, 21, is home in Acworth (a northern suburb of Atlanta) with his parents, grandmother and Clarke, a freshman pitcher for South Carolina. They will enjoy some family time together and the brothers plan to stay busy working out and doing bullpen sessions on their own.

Schmidt can continue his normal baseball activities while he battles cancer. And the Schmidts have been told he could be finished with chemotherapy well before the Tigers begin fall practices for Clate’s senior year.

“Love @CSchmidt32 with all my heart,” Clarke Schmidt tweeted. “Strongest kid I know and I know he will beat this. Just a minor speed bump brother.”

According to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, Hodgkin’s is most commonly found in young adults between the ages of 20 and 34. Approximately 9,000 new cases are diagnosed annually, but more than 80 percent of those diagnosed live at least five years and many are cured.

One of Schmidt’s pitching idols, Chicago Cubs ace Jon Lester, beat a different kind of lymph node cancer in 2006 while playing for the Boston Red Sox.

“Thank you everyone for your love and support,” Clate Schmidt tweeted. “And can’t wait to start kicking cancer’s a-- on my own front.”

Schmidt had a 2-3 record and 4.67 ERA in 18 appearances this season.