Worcester Academy's Asa Floyd shares his story of cancer survival
Asa Floyd is a cancer survivor and an advocate for early detection. (Photo by Drew Forsberg)
There are still tough days for Asa Floyd.
There is the birthday of his aunt, Tracy Rivera, who died from brain cancer. The anniversary of her passing is also hard to handle. Dec. 28, the day in 2017 when Floyd was diagnosed with testicular cancer, doesn't pass without some emotional pain. Jan. 2, the date in 2018 when the doctors removed the tumor, is another one.
But every time Floyd feels down, and those reminders of some of the most trying moments of his life come up, the Worcester Academy senior and Holden native remembers what could have been. If not for the early detection of his diagnosis, Floyd might not be looking forward to a promising future, where he will be playing baseball at UMass, continuing his education, and enjoying friends and family.
Still, that concept is not easy to grasp.
"I definitely feel a lot better as time goes on, but I don't think it will hit me for a really long time, if it ever does," said Floyd of being confronted with his own mortality. "But it's definitely getting much easier. I've learned a lot of lessons from having cancer at such a young age: that every day is not a given; and to never really hold a grudge against someone too long, because you never know if they're going to be there in a week or a month. Those are lessons that I've learned that have made it easier and have taught me to appreciate life a lot more. I know it sounds a little bit corny, but it's very true."
When Floyd went to the doctor in late 2017, he thought his discomfort was from a lingering football injury. But after a couple visits to a urologist, it was determined that he had a tumor. Even though it was removed just days later, there was not a lot of clarity on its severity.
"There were three or four weeks where we didn't know 100 percent what was going on," Floyd said. "The doctors predicted stuff and whatnot, but we didn't really know what was going on at first."
When things became more clear, a gravity set in for obvious reasons.
"It was definitely a shock for everyone, but my family, my aunt passed away from brain cancer, so hearing that word again wasn't too comfortable, we'll say," Floyd said. "But with the support of those family members, friends, Worcester Academy, they really helped bring us together and make it a lot easier."
Floyd did his best to not let it all overwhelm him.
"At the time, I tried to be the happy person in the group because if I was being happy, then everyone should because of the situation I was in," he said. "I really didn't want anyone feeling bad for me because it was a tough situation, obviously. But because of the good attitude of my family and the positive outlook, it made it a little easier, for sure."
Of course, none of it was actually easy. But Floyd leaned heavily on those closest to him to try and push through the pain. The starting quarterback and two-time captain of the football team and standout catcher, outfielder and captain on the baseball team, Floyd had a support system both on and off campus.
"I didn't want to go out of my way to tell everyone that I had testicular cancer, but the people that really meant a lot to me, I shared," Floyd said. "After that, they told people, so that even made it a little bit easier. Just getting texts from people saying, 'I've heard what's going on. If you ever need anything, let me know,' stuff like that, really helped."
Now, Floyd feels like he is in a position to help others, and does not shy away from it. He is involved with the 15-40 Connection, which focuses on early detection with a "3 Steps Detect" method of knowing yourself, noticing a change and going to see a doctor if things don't improve in two weeks. The "2-Week Rule" is that your body can usually recover from minor problems within two weeks, but if a problem is persisting, that's a sign that it might be a symptom of a more serious underlying issue. For Thursday night's Patriots game against the New York Giants, Floyd and others will be out before the game at Gillette Stadium as part of the NFL's Crucial Catch ceremony.
Out of all the Patriots who are his idols, Floyd wants to meet one the most.
"Definitely Tom Brady if there was one specific person," Floyd said. "Meeting anyone on the team would be an honor, but just the way he presents himself. He's obviously the best football player of all time. I say he's the best player to ever play a sport. But, it's more than that, too. It's the preparation. It's the hard work that he puts in. It's his mindset that I've looked up to and really tried to reflect, not only on the field, but in the classroom, as well."
But there are many ways in which Floyd acts as an inspiration, too. His ability to overcome a horrible disease and find a way to help others detect it before it is too late can save lives. Floyd has helped raise over $10,000 in fundraisers with his story, and knows that even though serving that role can conjure up emotions that are not easy to deal with, it is important for him to do so, anyway.
"I always look for another opportunity to spread this message. I don't think there will be an end anytime soon," Floyd said. "Usually, a couple days it will affect my mood talking about it, but I'm willing to do anything for those people because they really saved my life, ultimately. Who knows? If I waited a month or so later, it would have been a different story. (The 15-40 Connection) came to my school in October of 2017 and shared their message of the 3 Steps Detect. Whenever I get an opportunity to share this story, I'm always willing to do it."