When life throws you a curve ball, knock it out of the park

By Paige Kleykamp, George Rogers Clark High School

Life is so precious, and everything about it can change in the blink of an eye.

Carter Maynard, a junior at GRC, knows this better than anyone.

A boy who was thriving as a three-sport athlete was recently diagnosed with an aneurysmal bone cyst and is now recovering from the life-altering tumor found near his pelvic bone.

“It all started during basketball season when I had pain in my hip/pelvic area. I didn’t really think anything of it until baseball season when I was constantly limping,” Carter recalled.

Doctors weren’t sure what exactly was wrong with Carter. First they suspected it was a pulled muscle, then they went on to believe it was a hernia.

“We went in for an MRI and a few days later we found out it was a tumor,” said Carter. “Luckily we found out it was not cancerous. They aren’t able to perform surgery because there are too many nerves in that spot. Now we have to wait 6-12 months to see a change in the tumor’s mass.”

The Maynards never expected to be told that the thought to be “pulled muscle” was actually an extremely rare tumor.

“My parents told me when I got home and the first questions I had were, ‘Is it cancer?’ and ‘When am I going to play baseball again?'” Carter recalled.

Carter has been playing baseball for 11 years, and he was heartbroken when he found out he wouldn’t be able to play for a while due to recovery.

“The hardest part about all of this for me is watching everyone play the sport that I love and I can’t be on the field with my friends,” said Carter.

Though the situation is horrible, Carter has found ways to cope and adjust to the circumstances he’s currently facing.

“Some ways I have adjusted are never going anywhere without my crutches, supporting my friends even if I can’t do the activities they are doing, and just accepting that it was a bad luck tumor and I can’t do anything to change the past,” said Carter.

Treatment days are very long days for Carter, but they’re necessary to help shrink the tumor.

“My treatments are very rough these days,” he explained. “I go to the UK hospital very early so they can draw my blood and do tests on me. Then I have to change clothes, lay in bed, set up an IV, and then just wait for hours until they put me under. When I wake up I’m in a lot of pain and it stays like that for 2-3 days.”

Carter’s hopeful attitude is what has helped to get him through this rough patch in his life.

His family, sports teams, and even random community members have all come together to show Carter support and help in any way possible.

“I am so grateful for all my friends, family, and people I don’t even know for their support,” said Carter. “The baseball team and coaches have constantly been by my side.”

“My church family has lifted my spirits as well,” he continued. “You don’t realize how many people care about you until something tragic happens.”

Not only has this tragic diagnosis affected Carter, but it has also taken a toll on his friends and family.

“Really the hardest thing for me as his coach is just seeing the pain in his eyes of not being able to play and wanting to play so bad,” said GRC baseball coach Chris Varney. “I have told the kids on several occasions that they need to play like Carter because you never know when you may have played for the last time in a while.”

It is obvious how much Carter’s team admires him; every baseball game is played to honor him.

“Carter is one of if not the heart and soul of our team…We should all strive to play like Carter plays — 100 miles an hour with his hair on fire,” Coach Varney said. “I really hate this for him, but baseball does not define him.  He is an outstanding person as well and will be successful no matter what he does in life.  He is just a winner.  Life is precious and you just have to keep getting back up when it knocks you down.”

Carter’s story is one that is inspirational to all kinds of people. Everyone has a passion, and we don’t realize how special that is until we see someone being restrained from doing what they love.

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is don’t take the people that care about you or the sport you love for granted,” said Carter.

Not only is this story inspirational, but Carter also sets an example to all that even if something awful happens, there is a way to get through it.

“To anyone going through hard times like this, you can’t do it alone so don’t abandon or push people away,” said Carter. “It’s a defense mechanism we all have but trust me it’s better to turn to family, friends, and God.”

This story was originally published on Smoke Signals on October 24, 2022.