Gophers holder and four-time cancer survivor Casey O'Brien will undergo surgery this week to remove a spot in one of his lungs.
The sophomore holder has captured college football's attention this season, sharing his story first at the Big Ten Media Days Kickoff Luncheon speech and again on program's like ESPN's "College GameDay."
Doctors diagnosed the St. Paul native with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, at age 13. He's endured everything from a full left knee replacement to multiple lung surgeries and chemotherapy treatments, some as recently as his freshman year with the Gophers. But he was close to two years cancer-free when he shared his health update Monday on Twitter.
"Earlier today, I had my three-month scans, and the doctors found a small spot in one of my lungs. They are not sure what it is, but they want to remove it this week so they can test it," O'Brien wrote. "I appreciate everyone's support and prayers, and I am looking forward to retuning to the field soon."
O'Brien hashtagged his tweet "#5x", in reference to how he plans to beat the disease once more.
The walk-on made his college debut at Rutgers on Oct. 19, holding all three of the Gophers' fourth-quarter extra points in the blowout victory. The Gophers play Wisconsin on Saturday in the team's biggest game in decades, with a rivalry trophy and trip to the Big Ten Championship Game on the line.
"I met with Casey earlier today, and he shared the news with me, as he does after each scan," coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement. "Casey is the strongest young man I have ever met, and I know he will recover from this as well. He has an entire team, community, state and all of college football supporting him and rowing the boat with him."
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit tweeted: "Thoughts and prayers Case. Your story and attitude are an inspiration for many. Can't wait to see ya back on the field."