Mason Nesbitt: A player worth rooting for

Valencia High graduate Chad Bible was diagnosed with cancer in January. This month he learned that he was cancer free. Courtesy photo

This was one of those few moments when a reporter could root. When he could stand up off his hands, pump his fists in the air and embrace bias.

This was about Chad Bible. This was the homestretch. The hard-earned victory was in sight and almost a sure thing.

On Aug. 7, Bible, his girlfriend Kira Evanoff and I trekked from Valencia to City of Hope hospital in Duarte for what we all hoped would be Bible’s final PET scan.

Bible and Evanoff, a couple since their days at Valencia High, had been kind enough to let me tag along after I’d detailed Bible’s months-long battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in an earlier story.

And a battle it was.

Doctors diagnosed Bible with cancer on Jan. 10, a month or so before his baseball season at San Diego State was set to begin.

Instead of playing left field, Bible hunkered down in the front seat of his parents’ four-door sedan every other Thursday and awaited the inevitable nastiness. He often vomited before the three-and-a-half-hour infusions began.

But not on this sunny August afternoon. Two weeks earlier, Bible had completed his 12th and final round of chemo. Now it was time to see if all the cancer was out.

Bible said he wasn’t nervous. If he was, it didn’t keep him from peppering me with questions.

He wanted to know if I was an IHOP or a Denny’s guy (Denny’s). He asked about the music I listen to (Ben Rector and Cold War Kids) and whether or not I’d been to any new restaurants lately (I hadn’t).

As he checked in at the radiology center, Bible delved deeper.

“Say, Mason Nesbitt, if you could do whatever you wanted in the world, writing wise, who are you writing for?” he asked.

Minutes later he was behind closed doors, undergoing the test. And it was my turn to ask questions.

To Evanoff, “How have you seen Bible change through all this?”

“He’s more mature now in his way of thinking, I guess, and a lot of it is from the books he reads,” she says in the waiting room. “He goes into every day like, ‘Alright, today is going to be a good day. I don’t care what happens, I’m going to live it how I want to live it.’ (Since the chemo ended), he can’t sleep at night. He says, ‘I feel so good. My body is so excited, I can’t sleep.’”

How hard was it to watch her boyfriend enter a fog for a few days after each chemo treatment?

“It was hard,” she says. “I mean, he always apologized to me saying, ‘I’m sorry I’m so boring. I’m just laying here.’ I’d say, ‘I don’t care. I just want to be here with you to scratch your back and rub your head.’”

The couple met at Valencia High.

Evanoff had been friends since elementary school with a Vikings baseball player, so her path crossed Bible’s on several occasions and they hit it off.

When Bible asked her out in March of Evanoff’s senior year, she said she couldn’t promise anything. But by the time August rolled around, and she was about to leave for Valparaiso University in Indiana, she was willing to give long-distance a shot.

For three-plus years, they talked every night and FaceTimed at least once a week. It wasn’t easy, but Evanoff says it gave them time to grow as people.

Then Bible was diagnosed.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. Hurry up so I can be home,’” she says.

After Evanoff graduated with a health care management degree this May, she did come home.  And Bible was glad she did.

“I love her a lot,” he said after finishing his final PET scan at City of Hope.

On the ride back, Bible kept checking his phone for an email with test results.

It never came. He kept asking questions.

How did I feel about Lonzo Ball coming to the Lakers? Who did I think was better, Kobe or MJ?

By the time Bible and Evanoff dropped me at my car, word still hadn’t come.

Bible said he didn’t plan to worry in the days that followed. Ultimately, it was out of his hands.

“There’s no reason not to be happy,” he says. “And when you are feeling sorry for yourself, you need to take a step back and view your situation from a different perspective and be grateful for what you have.”

At 8:06 p.m. that night, Bible had great news: “I’m cancer free man!” the text message read. “Thanks for coming with me today!”

On Aug. 22, Bible underwent surgery to have his chemo port removed. He’s since returned to San Diego State and started rehab.

He’s doing a lot of cardio workouts on stationary bikes. He’s working out his shoulder. He’s stretching and working out his core.

He hopes to be 100 percent ready to go by the time the Aztecs open their spring season.

By then, he’ll still be worth rooting for.

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