When Luke Vazdauskas and his father, David Vazdauskas, traveled to Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, Maine to deliver Christmas toys to his young patients, they never imagined that Luke would one day receive care from the same hospital. Luke’s battle with lymphoma has been demanding, but his family, friends and football teammates have created a resilient community of support and strength.
In October 2020, 16-year-old Luke underwent an MRI for knee pain. The results called for a bone marrow biopsy which led to a diagnosis of lymphoma. Fortunately, the cancer was detected early and confined to a small area in his leg bones, and is now in remission.
Prior to his diagnosis, Luke was an impressive member of the Brunswick High School (ME) football team and was a starting defenseman in college in his freshman year. Although he had to take a break to keep the opposition at bay, he was still an integral member of the Brunswick Dragons last season. Luke analyzed the game footage, planned formations and, as an avid music producer, even curated the pre-game playlist for his teammates on the pitch. The mutual camaraderie is apparent in the wristbands and “Luke V Strong” signage that adorned the team.
Luke’s chemotherapy treatment is currently in the less intensive “maintenance” cycle, his strength has returned and he looks forward to returning to a more active role with the team this fall. Throughout the treatment, Luke and his father created a post-session tradition with BWW curbside orders. A 20-piece meal to share is an essential part of Luke’s healing process. As a sign of his return to health, Luke even upped the intensity by turning up the heat with different sauces.
“It was an amazing surprise to get this football,” said Luke. “And even more amazing that it was designed just for me! It really gave me a boost just when I needed it. Luke adds that he looks forward to continuing the weekly visits to BWW. “It got me through a tough time, and now it will be a great reward after practices and practices.”
When Luke’s father reached out to share Luke’s story, resilience and loyalty to BWW, a celebration was well deserved. Now that Luke is recovering, he will have a personalized soccer ball to remember his strength and the support of his community.