Steelers running back James Conner opened up about his cancer battle, revealing doctors told him he had just one week to live at the time of his diagnosis in 2015.
“The doctor told me I had about a week left,” Conner said on the podcast “Ya neva now: ya know what I mean?” last week. “He said, ‘You got about a week.’ If you didn’t get this treated, you had about a week at the rate it was growing.”
Conner’s diagnosis came while he was recovering from a torn MCL in 2015. He said he was having trouble sleeping and had additional testing, which revealed he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“I’m rehabbing for that, trying to make a comeback before the season ends. And then … [I get] night sweats, bro,” Conner said. “I’m getting like 15 minutes of sleep at night, going through it. Sleep, who [doesn’t] love sleep? That’s the worst [stuff] in the world … And so I get some tests done, and I got tumors surrounding my heart … I got tumors growing all around it, and it’s pressing.”
While it was hard for him to learn of his diagnosis, Conner said it was even harder to tell his family.
“The hardest part about the whole thing was telling my bros,” he added. “I remember that like it was yesterday. … How would they feel if their youngest brother was not here no more? How would they feel if their youngest brother died? I said I can’t do it. I can’t go.”
After having chemotherapy treatments, Conner revealed he was cancer-free in May 2016. He returned to the field to finish his senior season at Pittsburgh, and then was drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
He had a breakout season last year as he filled the void left by Le’Veon Bell, starting 12 of the Steelers’ games. Conner, 24, rushed for 973 yards on 215 carries and added 12 touchdowns, though he was limited by injuries.