COOPER CITY (CBS4) – Josh Pita, 10, is a right tackle for the Cooper City Optimist Cowboys football team.
By looking at him, you’d never realize, he’s battling cancer.
Thursday, he was at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital getting his monthly chemo treatment because he has Leukemia.
When he was diagnosed two and a half years ago he and his family were petrified.
“I was thinking that I was going to die,” Josh recalled.
“He sat up straight in his bed and screamed, I’m going to die!” his mom remembered. “And when my husband and I convinced him he was not going to die, he threw himself back and wailed, ‘I can’t play football anymore.’”
At first, Josh did not play football. But even intense chemo early on could not keep him from his love of sports. While hooked up to some of the most powerful chemo drugs in his treatment, he played Nerf basketball in his room, shooting hoops for a week.
The first moment he could, Josh got back onto the football field. His doctor even positioned his port so it could be covered by his protective pads.
Josh loves being back on the team.
“(I’m) excited that I can still play and I forget all about cancer and I can feel like a normal kid,” he said while smiling.
During practice, you’ll see Josh running off to the side lines to him mom, not there for a pep talk, he’s taking his daily dose of oral chemotherapy.
Josh’s love of football has spread over social media. There’s a picture making the rounds, where Josh is holding a poster that reads, “Chemo in the afternoon, football in the evening! That’s just how I roll!”
It’s a motto that inspired so many, even his young team mates.
“Like, he’s one of the best teammates on the whole team!” said fellow Cooper City Cowboy Aiden Mann.
Josh’s mom, like all moms, worries while he’s on the field, but she keeps it in check and is grateful her son is well enough to do what he loves so much.
“Sometimes he’ll get the wind knocked out of him and sit there with my fingers on my chair just holding myself down so I don’t go running on to the field to make sure he’s ok.”
But, she said, “the benefit of him playing and the joy it brings him is worth any worry that I might have.”
Josh’s chemo treatment should be done in March of next year. After that, he’ll return for monthly exams while continuing to take medication.