Babe Ruth League Player Adam Gostomski is One Tough Teen

Adam GGostomski's dog is, appropriated, a shiba, a Japanese breed said to possess spirited boldness, courage and self-confidence.  Adam Gostomski, who has Hodgkins Lymphoma, certainly has displayed those qualities during the past two years.

His radiation treatments are scheduled to end, and the family is expecting him to receive a clean bill of health.  He has been undergoing proton therapy as an outpatient at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.  The radiation phase will hopefully be the final stage of his treatment, which has included chemotherapy sessions during the past two winters.

 This will allow him to, among other things, get on with his baseball.  For his parents and two younger sisters, life would return to a more normal routine, as well.  According to Adam, it was never a matter of if, but when.

"You just have to think positive," he said.  "it's not that hard - or for me it wasn't.  I saw other kids suffering at the hospital, but that whole attitude is why I'm standing here right now."

"It's been hard, his mom Anna countered.  "You drive to the hospital and see all the other families struggling like we are, their children sick.  It's hard to see your child sick.  You want to switch places, you want your child to be doing kids' stuff."

 Adam played outfielder on his high school team and was on the state championship Babe Ruth team last summer, but coming off chemo treatment limited him and he never hit full stride.  His playing time was limited on varsity, but he expects to blossom and return to the game. 

OFF THE FIELD

Adam doesn't feel his illness changed him.  His family begs to differ."He's very cocky," his father Joe said with a smile, looking across the kitchen as his son took a swig of his protein shake concoction.

"And also very strong," his mother injected.  "He had to go through these changes in his body and he's handled it great.  Even if it's with his humor or with this, 'Oh it doesn't botherme, it wasn't affecting me,' he's handling it as best he can."  "You get nervous," she said.  "He's a teenager.  They could go the other way, to the dark side."

His sisters also lived the nightmare, but they too have been impressed with their brother not shutting down into an abyss.

"He jokes around a lot," said Sara, a freshman at North.  "He takes things like cancer and turns them into a positive thing."

"That's how he handles everything," said sister Maddy, 13.  "People say, 'Oh I'm sorry about this happening,' and he'll just brush it off and make it lighter than it seems - which I think is good for everyone around him.  It probably scares them a little bit less and probably scares hm a little bit less."

The juggling act has been stressful.  Anna works in the school district and Joe commutes to the New York Stock Exchange.  After his initial diagnosis, Adam had chemo on an outpatient basis, five days a month for four months.  The return of the cancer necessitated, as the father put it, "a much harsher course of chemo and the follow-up with radiation."  During chemo, the girls were stuck doing his chores and at times helped with his homework.

"I let them do the coloring," cracked their brother, who has a 4.0 grade point average.  "We're all a little closer," sara said.  "And I think less materialistic," Joe said.  "Because it's all about time.  At least I know I am."

OUTSIDE THE HOME

Support from friends, the community and the school district was more than the family could have imagined.  "People gave us gift cards, they donated Adam and iPad, they cooked dinners, gave the kids rides - you don't do it alone," Joe said.  "You really need help.  And let people help you that want to help.  I think that's healing."  "The school district has been great, too," Anna said.  "They've made sure his sisters are doing well in their classes and that the teachers understand there's something going on at home."

And of course thee was support from his baseball teammates. "I knew his skill set," said Adam's high school coach Mike Santoro.  "But I didn't know how tough he is until last year, when everything happened." 

"He didn't want to leave the field, he didn't want to give up baseball, and that's still the way he talks now.  It's almost as if nothing happened.  He just plays it like nothing's going on and he going about his business.  He has the maturity level of someone in their twenties or thirties," Santoro said.

"He's very strong-willed, and maybe part of it is he's been through I guess what could be considered the grieving process and he doesn't want to feel those emotions anymore, so he's just moving on.  I don't know," he said.

A TEAM EFFORT

"When the cancer came back, the kids were obviously concerned," Santoro said.  "A lot of them have played together since Little League and Babe Ruth.  But I don't think any of them tiptoed around him.  There was a scary time at the beginning, of course, because you don't know what's going to happen.  But I think we turned it into a positive.  We used it as a learning experience for the kids.  It's not every day that a 16-year-old friend has cancer."

One of those kids was Sid Kumar.  "I couldn't believe it," Kumar said about hearing the news.  "But then you'd see him at school and you just started to forget about it.  You can't see it in his face that he has a really bad sickness."

"He's a really strong kid, obviously.  He's had chemo twice and he's in school almost every single day.  Even with all of this stuff, he's really down to earth.  You would expect guys to hate everything, to hate life, but he's th complete opposite of that," he said.

Kumar expects his friend to be one of the better players in the county next season, and said that there are no limits how far his baseball career might take him.  "He has that mental stability because of what he's dealt with," Kumar said.  "He won't give up because he's been through the hard times.  Even if he fails once or twice, his mind set is to keep going.  He won't stop."

"Going through cancer, some people don't come out alive," Kumar added.  "He did , and he can tell the story."