THE STORY OF
By the end of March of 2017, Alexander got diagnosed with Lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects your lymph nodes. A diagnosis that turned his life 180° in another direction in one second.
In 2017, Alexander was a 17-year-old boy that played basketball at the Leuven Bears. That season, he just started playing for the second team that played in Top Division Men 2 in Belgium. He was fit, eager to play and a rookie of the team that had endless energy on the court. He had basketball practice 5 to 6 times a week and played 2 games a week.
To treat Lymphoma, Alexander had to undergo 9 months of intensive chemotherapy.
Trust the process
After his diagnosis, he didn’t feel like he was all alone. His whole team was there to support him. The team captain decided to make warm-up jerseys for the team with number 7 (Alexander’s number) on the back with the encouraging words: “Get well Alex”. During his treatment, the team retired the number 7 for Alexander, to make sure when he came back that he could play with his old number.
Alexander’s chemotherapy lasted from Easter until Christmas. The chemotherapy was killing the cancerous cells, but also did other things to Alexander. It didn’t attack the cancerous cells only, but also his own healthy body cells. Alexander lost 16 kilograms of muscles, he was losing his hair, his physical condition started to deteriorate. He wasn’t his old super fit self anymore. After his treatment, he was exhausted.
Even though his body became weak, his mind was strong. His team and his family were there to support him throughout this process. Together, they motivated Alexander to pick up physical activity and sports. Bit by bit, with the continuous effort at the gym surrounded by his teammates and with help of the team physical therapist, he was getting stronger again. He started to throw his first basketball on the court, too his first dribbles.
Him and his family realized how important physical activity and sports was for Alexander to recover. They also knew how hard it is to be a family to have a child with cancer and that the support of Alexander’s team played a big part in his recovery process. So, together with his basketball team, they decided to start the organization, One Team Against Cancer.
The One Team Against Cancer fundraiser project
Every year around Christmas, there is a radio show called “De Warmste Week”. It’s a fundraiser for a variety of good causes. Everyone can start their own fundraise for a certain project they stand behind.
Around Christmas in 2018, One year after the treatment of Alexander, One Team Against Cancer decided to sell wristbands to raise money for an NGO that works together with the local university hospital that conducts research against cancer. To be more specific, this research was about the re-integration of sports and physical activity for children and adolescent after the cancer treatment.
What they didn’t know was that this project was about to blow up. In their first year, they raised about 50 000 euros for the research. In 2019, One Team Against Cancer came up with their logo, symbolizing a group if people around a cancer ribbon. They Designed two pairs of basketball socks and it was directly a hit. These socks could be found on pretty much every basketball court throughout Belgium. They also organized several events. Together with his team, they organized a fundraiser game, they went to the hospital to play basketball with the patients of the pediatric oncology ward, etc. This movement became so big, that the national sports channel Sporza joined the One Team Against during the fundraiser basketball game with several cancer patients as special guests. They made advertisements with the Belgian Cats, etc. That year, One Team Against cancer raised about 60 000 euros for the research.
After a cancer treatment, most children are physically drained. They drop out of their sports team; they stop attending PE at school, etc. This is the beginning of a viscous cycle of more and more sedentary behavior. In a study on 40 thousand children who have suffered from cancer in the past, it has been shown that the children who were physically active and were practicing sports, had 40% less mortality compared to the most sedentary ones. The movement of One Team Against Cancer is there to support children who have suffered a form of cancer to pick up physical activity and sports to make sure that they can get their life back.
ONE TEAM AGAINST CANCER
Since the start of One Team Against Cancer, a lot more attention went to children with cancer. The research that they support is meant to optimize the physical-supporting programs for children during/post cancer treatment. With the funds raised so far, a PhD research study has started at the KULeuven and the university hospital of Leuven on cancer-related fatigue and the relationship of physical activity with children and adolescents following cancer. Alexander is currently one of the 150 cancer survivors recruited for this research. This year they started campaign with newly designed socks and hoodies, but due to COVID-19, they couldn’t run any special events yet.
If this story struck a string in your heart and if you want to support One Team Against Cancer, you can order your socks and hoodies here! You can find more information on their Facebook page and Instagram page.
Bouncewear was touched and inspired by One Team Against Cancer. To make the logistics easier for the movement. After you have ordered your socks or hoodies, you can pick them up in all the Bouncewear store in Belgium.