BOSTON (CBS) – For Jon Lester, battling cancer hits home.
In 2006, a then-22-year-old Lester was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare form of blood cancer.
He fought his battle and won. Lester returned to the mound for Boston, and has become their best pitcher over the last four years.
Now, the Red Sox pitcher is doing whatever he can to help strike out children’s cancer.
On Thursday, Lester unveiled the “NVRQT”campaign — which stands for “Never Quit” — to help raise awareness and money for children’s cancer research.
“This is something that is easy for me to get involved with. It’s been a short 5-6 years since being diagnosed, so it was something that hit home for me,” Lester said Thursday. “This was something we couldn’t pass up, it’s a big honor for me and my family to be a part of this.”
Lester On NVRQT:
“We couldn’t be more delighted,” Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation board member Rob Quish said from the Fenway podium. “The foundation has been around for over 30 years, and will hit $30 million raised this year, but we’re hoping this national program with Jon’s support is going to have a huge impact. Kid’s cancer research really gets a small amount compared to adult research. So we’re hoping this national effort will have a huge effect.”
The campaign began last season when Lester taped a commercial at Fenway. “NVRQT” is represented by a white-on-white baseball with the intials on it, representing the “purity and innocence of the thousands of childhoods affected by pediatric cancer,” according to the foundation’s Facebook page. All who make a donation receive a baseball, and the all-white leather canvas gives them the opportunity to write words of encouragement on them.
Watch Lester’s Commercial For NVRQT:
All proceeds go to the Pediactric Cancer Research Foundation, and donations can be made on the foundation’s Facebook page.
Lester, now a father himself, said getting involved in the fight children’s cancer was a no-brainer.
“Once your son comes into the world and you look at him, and imagine him to go through what I went through, it’s heartbreaking,” said Lester. “That was another reason for me getting involved with this; I couldn’t imagine him being in a hospital bed getting the drugs I got. Any way that we can help raise money so kids can get this treatment as painless and easy as possible, the better.”
And while he is doing his part to help others battle cancer, his own bout with the disease is an afterthought.
“Not as much,” Lester said when asked how much he thinks about his battle with cancer. “After last year, after my last scan, it was pretty much out of my head. The date for me is right around Thanksgiving. Every year both of our families are at our house and we always do a toast to another year. That’s probably been the last time I thought about it for me, personally.”
“Right now it’s about as far from my mind as it can get.”
Now, the Lester family has something else to toast on Thanksgiving day.