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Raising the state title amidst battle with cancer

Despite ALA Gilbert North’s first football state title, one player’s fight continues off the field with cancer

GILBERT, Ariz. — At the start of the 2022 football season, ALA Gilbert North wide receiver Travis Finch was eager about the journey ahead with his teammates and the goal of raising the first ever gold ball for the program.

But that goal was short lived for Finch just weeks into the season.

"That's when I had to first started to notice the lump in my leg and I didn't think anything of it at first," Finch said. “I thought to myself, it’ll go away eventually.”

Unfortunately, it did not. In fact, over time Finch continued to notice more pain in his leg. Because of this development, he and his father decided to go to the doctor to be safe and the thought of cancer never crossed his mind.

"You never think it's going to be you,” Finch said. “So, I was just like there's no way."

Just a few days later after his MRI, Finch received the dreaded news he least expected. He was diagnosed with an extremely rare bone cancer, called sarcoma.

“The doctor came into his office and told us it was for sure cancer and then I broke down and cried for a while.”

Due to the late discovery of the cancer, it spread to parts of his spine and left shoulder and his fight truly began. Finch undergoes his chemotherapy treatments every other week, which he will continue to do until summertime. The treatments are necessary but also draining and exhausting throughout his stay in the hospital.

"That whole time I feel totally drained, out of energy, not feeling good at all," Finch said.

Despite his ongoing fight, his love for football never wavered. Routinely stopping by team practices when Finch could muster enough strength to do, showing his support for his team despite watching from the sidelines.

"Then in the off weeks I start to feel normal again and get to practices and all that,” Finch said. “Everytime I go there my team's really happy to see and supportive and all the coaches have been great."

Fast forward months later and a State Title for the first time in ALA Gilbert North program history and Finch still undergoing his treatments, yet he was able to make it to the game. He might not have played in the most important game of his young career, but still found the strength to be present and witness history on a day where only football mattered.

"Our relationship goes deeper than football,” Finch said. “They're going to be there for me even off the field."

In the meantime, each day Finch will continue to fight until he hopefully steps on the field for the upcoming 2023 season.


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