Dakota Carroll has been through a lot as a teenager, but one thing he never thought he would have to experience at the age of 14 was cancer.
Dakota has a special secret handshake with the doctor he never thought he would have to meet. Dakota explains, "I never thought it would happen to me, but it did."
Dakota Carroll is a regular at the Southwest Cancer Center. After three rounds of chemotherapy, Dakota has his hair back, but he'll still be coming back for regular checkups for the next 20 years. It's a lifetime of recovery that started after some striking news last December.
Dakota takes us back to that day. "I felt the knot on my shoulder one day at school. I was worried about it, didn't know what it was," he says.
Dakota's mom says, "Right then, we both thought there's something wrong, but when we found out it was awful you don't ever think you can say my son had cancer or my son has cancer."
Dakota was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin's Lymphoma, devastating news for a young aspiring pitcher. Dakota underwent emergency surgery at University Medical Center the very next day to remove the cancerous lump.
Like most teens, sports are Dakota's life and he wanted to make sure cancer wasn't going to put him on the bench. He says, "Just wanted to know if I could go back to school and play sports." Dakota's mom adds, "After his second round of chemo, he went over to play basketball."
Dakota's fearlessness shined both on and off the field. Dakota's mom was proud of her son, "He would go to school and ask his teacher, 'I know I'm sick but don't treat me any different.' He didn't want to miss school."
Dakota wanted to fit in at school, "Most people that have to take chemo, they just sit down and think about it. And I didn't want to know I was in that situation," he says.
Dakota's dad said, "The doctor said do what he has to do, don't hold him back."
Still--behind all the bravery, there lies some doubt. "Sometimes when I'm lying in bed, I do think about it coming back." Dakota says. He is still "coming back" to the Southwest Cancer Center for frequent visits and so far he's making progress each time he walks through the doors.
Despite these regular check-ups in Lubbock, Dakota is still planning his future. "I really want to go to school and play baseball for Texas in Austin," he says.
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