By COLLIN BROOKS
It was a feeling he had felt before. Every time that Andres Huerta prepared for a football game at David Crockett, he had an anxious energy that didn’t overwhelm him, but it was noticeable. That was his same gut feeling as he strolled into the hospital for what he hoped would be his last check up.
“I wasn’t really nervous, I just felt at peace and I felt pretty confident,” the 18-year old said of his hospital visit last week. “You’re just eager to get out there and eager to get the results.”
But the thrill of victory overtook him as cheers filled the hospital room that was packed with nurses and family. Huerta had beaten cancer, again.
It was the second round of battle with cancer for the David Crockett graduate who was a standout on the football field last year as a defensive back. Huerta was just days away from leaving for Tennnessee Tech to start his college career in the classroom and on the field, but a routine check-up changed his plans. A CT scan showed that his cancer had returned.
“I was pretty upset, because I was ready to go play and go to school,” Huerta said.
But better news would come his way. The initial procedure was thought to include the removal of two of his lymph nodes, but Huerta said that his nurses decided that chemotherapy would be an appropriate alternative.
While going through the chemo was a grueling process, Huerta said that having the support of his family and friends made the task a bit easier.
“I had a lot of people supporting me and the first week that I was in the hospital, there wasn’t any standing room in the hospital bedroom, so I know I had a lot of support and I had a lot of people praying for me,” he said. “It was hard at times, because I would lose my appetite and I would get nauseous and stuff, but having my parents by my side and my friends helped me more than they’ll ever know.”
The nurses were also a positive influence on the 18-year old, and their support was shown with cheers and the sign they made for Huerta once it was announced he had come back cancer free. Ultimately, though, it was a mindset that became his battle plan.
“I just put it in my head that I was going to be determined to beat it and get back to football,” Huerta said.
Now, with the cancer behind him, that is exactly what he hopes to do.
“Now my mindset is getting back to going to school and playing football,” said Huerta who says he will get his port for his therapy taken out before he enrolls in school after Christmas.
That is when he plans on getting back on the football field and getting back into playing shape. The chemo or the cancer didn’t take away his weight — he actually gained a pound — but he is not quite the long and lean defensive stalwart he used to be.
“I am ready to get back out there and I don’t think that I have ever missed lifting or training so much,” he said with a smile.
And he plans on training in the same place where it all started for him.
“Coach Bosken has always made it known that Crockett is our home and the weight room doors are always open for us,” Huerta said. “Whenever we need someone to speak to or need some advice, he has always let us know that he is there for us.”
One noteworthy football feat that Huerta got to experience during his battle with cancer was meeting former Florida quarterback and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow. Huerta was hosted by the Tim Tebow Foundation during a trip to Knoxville for the University of Tennessee versus University of Alabama football game.
“It was a cool experience but the most I got out of it was his message about God and it was encouraging,” Huerta said. “Just meeting him and knowing that I had so many people praying for me. The great Tim Tebow was giving me words of encouragement so it made me feel uplifted and at peace with the whole situation.”
Huerta got to go to the game and visit the set of a television show and meet UT coach Butch Jones before attending the contest between the Vols and Crimson Tide. But now, Huerta is just ready to return to normal.
“Everything was kind of put on pause,” he said. “But now I am just excited to be a normal person again and be living a normal life.”
And that is centered around football.