, Salem, MA


January 23, 2007

Diagnosis doesn't discourage Leahy

Ryan Leahy is fearless. He'd like to think so, at least.

The kids who played football, baseball and basketball with him at St. John's Prep, the kids who opposed him in high school, his peers at Boston College, where he was the baseball captain - they'd all agree.

He's a pepperpot, for sure. The California Angels' minor league utility infielder from Salem may have invented trash talking. Cocky, yes. A highly-motivated individual, definitely. Very much a winner.

His junior year at BC, he homered over the Green Monster at Fenway Park in the Beanport Tournament and is still talking about it.

"It may have looked like it just made it, but that ball was three rows deep," the 25-year-older said in mock exaggeration.

His positive attitude is the biggest part of his sports personality. That trait was no different yesterday as Leahy discussed his latest issue: thyroid cancer.

He has a large cyst on the left side of his neck and a decent-sized cyst inside the thyroid, a few on top, and possibly others. Leahy said he may have as many as six small cysts in the thyroid area.

Know what Leahy said after getting word from Dr. Stephanie Lee of the New England Medical Center after testing positive? Some would have got emotional or suffered severe depression. But not Ryan Leahy.

"I wanted to find out from somebody all along what it was, so I could take care of it and get back on the field, and do the things I normally do," Leahy said. "I'm supposed to report to spring training March 9."

What if cancer jeopardizes or delays his baseball career?

"I'm not nervous that this, or any injury, could put an end to my baseball career," said Leahy, who will head for the operating room soon. He has been told there's a 97-percent chance he'll be cured. "That's my way of thinking."

Michael Carr, a friend of Leahy's from Salem, was with him on South Beach in Miami, getting ready for Thanksgiving brunch. They were going to watch the BC/Miami football game when Carr noticed a lump on Leahy's neck.

"I said, 'What are you talking about?'" Leahy said. "I saw a BC doctor that night, and he said to get it checked. I didn't feel comfortable with the doctor in Tampa doing surgery in case I got laid up, and my parents felt it would be best if I went home. I had a biopsy up here and it was inconclusive. Like it was nothing to worry about."

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