Norris to have surgery to remove cancerous growth from thyroid
Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris announced Monday that he’ll undergo surgery after being diagnosed with a cancerous growth on his thyroid earlier this year.
“I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer,” Norris said on his Instagram account, where he revealed his challenge Monday afternoon. “So now, I’m asking for prayers.”
The 22-year-old Norris said a growth was found on his thyroid soon after he was optioned from Toronto to Triple-A Buffalo in May. After a series of tests, the growth was diagnosed as malignant.
“Meaning it contained the C word .. cancer,” Norris explained on Instagram. “Hearing this was alarming, yeah. Weird, yea, that too. “I was given the option to shut my year down and get it removed immediately. However, seeing another doctor that determined I could wait until the end of the season reassured my gut feeling. Just Keep Playing.”
The Blue Jays traded Norris to the Tigers as part of the David Price trade July 30, one of the final trades Dave Dombrowski made as Detroit president/general manager. Al Avila, Dombrowski’s assistant GM at the time, said in an email Monday that the Tigers knew about Norris’ condition when the trade was made.
“This is a personal matter with Daniel,” Avila said. “Yes, we did know about it before the trade. We expect him to have a full recovery and be with us in Spring Training.”
Manager Brad Ausmus confirmed Monday night he was aware of the condition as well, and said he hopes everything goes well for Norris. Ausmus did not want to comment in detail on a personal issue, noting medical privacy.
Norris not only kept pitching, he pitched well with the Tigers. He became the first American League pitcher to hit a home run at Wrigley Field during an Interleague game against the Cubs in August, before going on the disabled list with an oblique strain. He returned to make four starts in September, including 10 scoreless innings over two starts against the White Sox.
Though the Tigers were out of postseason contention, Norris insisted he wanted to keep pitching, even through a 54-pitch first inning in his next-to-last start against the Rangers.
“Baseball kept me sane,” he said Monday. “Regardless of results on the field, I forgot about it when I was between the lines. After all, I was just trying to get the heck out of AAA. And I did. I was revived with an opportunity, a blessing from God, with the Tigers back in the big leagues.”
Norris briefly returned to Detroit at the end of the season to work on a mechanical tweak with pitching coach Jeff Jones, who announced his retirement on Monday. Before he left, he said he planned on traveling this offseason, heading out west, maybe going to Nicaragua, maybe Hawaii. He never disclosed the fight he has ahead.
“Now that [the season is] over, it’s time to get this thing out,” he said, “so please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I undergo surgery and come out 100% cancer free! As always … #justkeeplivin”
— James McCann (@JamesMcCann34) October 20, 2015
According to the American Cancer Society web site, the five-year relative survival rate is high for people diagnosed with thyroid cancer in its early stages — near 100 percent for Stages I and II, as long as the cancer doesn’t spread to the lymph nodes. Even the stage III survival rate is high, depending on the type of thyroid cancer. Surgery usually involves removal of part or all of the thyroid. The fact that doctors allowed Norris to keep pitching raises hope that the cancer was caught early.