HOUSTON - No team wins the World Series without bouncing back from some losses, but the loss Astros fan Layne Rodgers suffered this week is in a different league.
“Came up here to do another round of chemo, and they amputated my leg,” said the 16-year-old from his bed at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Six weeks ago, the Caney Creek High School junior was playing first base in off-season baseball. A trip to the doctor for a sore knee ended with a devastating diagnosis: Osteosarcoma. It's a type of bone cancer that has also spread to Layne’s lungs.
On Monday, between World Series Games 5 and 6, a surgery team removed Layne’s right leg.
“I ask God every day, ‘Why me?” Layne said softly. He paused, then added, “He only knows - but he only gives the hardest battles to the toughest kids.”
Along with the loss, Layne knows he has also received a gift as the Astros made their run to a World Series championship.
“They definitely take my mind off of everything,” he says. “I love watching them play.”
Both before and after surgery, Layne watched every World Series game with his parents, LeeAnn Perry and Billy Rodgers.
“The one good distraction that we’ve had, that he’s had, is the Astros,” said Billy Rodgers.
“It’s given us something to look forward to,” added Perry.
Hours before Game 7, Layne received a bit of good news. A friend had corresponded with Layne’s favorite player, Jose Altuve, on Instagram, requesting that the Astros second baseman visit Layne in the hospital.
The friend then sent Layne a screengrab of a return message from Altuve’s verified account: “OK, let’s make it happen.”
Layne smiled broadly, his phone still in hand, and said, “That would be a dream come true.”
Layne will face more chemotherapy in the coming days as doctors take aim at the cancer in his lungs. But during some difficult weeks, the Astros have helped lift him.
The team has also set an example for the 16-year-old ballplayer.
“The game is our escape. And just when you think they’re down and out, here they come back,” said Layne’s father. “Just like him.”
Note: Updates on Layne’s cancer fight are being provided on a Facebook page.
16-yr-old Layne Rodgers smiles for his Astros - two days after the amputation of his right leg. This World Series has been a blessing for Layne as he battles cancer at Texas Children's Hospital. "Takes my mind off everything." pic.twitter.com/2mOgkd0Ng0— Boyd Huppert (@BoydHuppert) November 2, 2017