As a portable fan cools a cavernous room, Chad Bible is heating up.
Like clockwork, in a private batting cage in the back of an industrial-park building, Bible’s father, Mike, picks baseballs out of a bucket and places them on a tee. First, chest high, then, like a crafty pitcher, low and away.
Each time, Bible levels a metal bat on the ball with less than optimal strength, but with more precision than ever.
After 30 or so hacks, Mike exits the cage. Bible crouches.
By the end of this session, which will last all of 13 minutes, Bible’s back will hurt. Heck, it will all hurt.
Chemotherapy has stolen a lot from the Valencia High graduate: a season of baseball at San Diego State, a semester of school, strands of his hair.
But he’ll be darned if treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma takes the precious minutes that come twice every couple weeks, before his energy is zapped, before life consists of sleep and vomit, before all he wants is a foot rub.
For now, he swings.
A pitching machine beeps and the bat thwacks.
Minutes later, the right-handed hitter calls for just two more. He laces one the other way. He blasts one up the middle.
He waits on a third. It feels his wrath.
“You came on a good day,” he says to a visitor. “This is the best I’ve done, probably.”
The hope, of course, is that the 21-year-old’s best days lie ahead – as he continues to pursue the game he refuses to leave behind.
To hell and back again
The 45-mile drive from Santa Clarita to City of Hope hospital in Duarte is usually silent.
Chad settles into the passenger’s seat, reclines and rests on a pillow.
He tries to sleep or listens to music. Nothing particular.
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