Earlier this week, I got some news that at first made my heart drop. My college basketball coach e-mailed the team, relaying the information that one of our teammates, Nick Planeta, had heard that his father (pictured above) was recently diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer that spread to his liver and lungs. Over the past four years, Steve Planeta had become an icon of our team, somewhat of a hero. Whenever you would see him after a game he would greet you as if you were family and ask you about how everything was going. Nick told us stories about his dad and we all came to love him through these many encounters and anecdotes.
Steve definitely passed his character and demeanor onto his son, as I can easily say that Nick is the most heartfelt and genuinely kind individual that I have ever met. I first met Nick at Colby basketball camp the summer before our freshman year at Colby. We were both counselors and as his huge 6'7'' frame came toward me I was a little intimidated, but that didn't last very long as I soon came to realize that he didn't have a mean bone in his body. Nick was also my roommate sophomore year and then again senior year and we became very close friends. When I started thinking more about the unexpected news, the more I came to realize that my heart had no need to drop. Of course it is very hard to hear news like that, but Steve and the rest of the Planeta's have a sense of optimism that cannot be matched.
I am no doctor, but I feel sure in saying that with a positive attitude and a good deal of support from family and friends, cancer can be beaten. I have spoken with Nick on a few occasions since hearing the news and he has told me that Steve is in very high spirits and that "most of the time he is around his father, he can't even tell that the man is sick." Steve Planeta is a fighter, there is no doubt about that...just look at the picture above and tell me that that powerful, "I mean business" mustache combined with his history of martial arts training does not easily qualify him as such.
Along with his own personal high spirits and will to fight, I know that Steve has countless people supporting him. It has been a beautiful thing over the past week to see my team members band together and offer their support and prayers to the Planeta family. In my four years at Colby, I certainly felt as though Colby Men's Basketball was a family within the larger Colby community, but being an alumni of the basketball family has really given me a new perspective on just how special of a group these young men are. It really and truly is like another family that you can always depend and rely upon through thick and thin, no matter what.
And of course the Planeta's themselves. Nick's mom, Kathy, is a truly special woman as well. Their unbelievable kindness must have been one of the things that brought Kathy and Steve together, because just being in the presence of the Planeta's puts people at ease and you can't help but to think to yourself "man, what if everyone was as nice as them" when you walk away from an encounter with them. I have only met Nick's sister, Kasey, a few times but something tells me that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Steve has all the tools he needs to put up a strong fight and beat his cancer, but most importantly he has the love and admiration of countless people that will help him through this trying time.
Nick started a blog in order to make it easier for people to stay up-to-date with Steve's progress, whether you have met him or not, definitely check out this blog and you will undoubtedly began to know him through his son's words: http://www.steveplaneta.blogspot.com.
To Steve and the rest of the Planeta family, speaking on behalf of the Colby Men's Basketball family, our thoughts and prayers will most certainly be with you and most importantly, so will our unrelenting and optimistic faith in you. God Bless and we love you.
Until next time...