A 19-year-old Wauconda native who had to pass on being drafted by the Chicago Cubs after a cancer diagnosis is now focusing on college and getting stronger.
Pierson Gibis was diagnosed with a rare form of muscle and connective tissue cancer two years ago when he was suddenly overcome with a wave of aches and pains.
"We went into the emergency room and three hours later we were told he had cancer, so it was horrible," said his mother Jan Gibis.
He endured an intense 54-week treatment plan.
"I couldn't function. My head would be pulsing like physically, you could feel my heartbeat like in my stomach because my entire body was really just going crazy. I couldn't stand up, I couldn't walk," Pierson Gibis said.
He relied on blood transfusions throughout his recovery.
"I got transfusions every week basically. I received well over a 100, I think we stopped counting at 100. It wasn't 100 days, it was 100 bags of blood," he said.
Pierson is currently in remission.
"I made a plan in my head the first day I got diagnosed. To get to my treatment. Take a year off of school, and get back," said Gibis, who currently plays baseball for Madison College in Wisconsin.
When his treatment ended, Pierson received the offer of a lifetime from the Chicago Cubs.
"I was actually hitting in my batting cage. A couple guys I work out with walked up to me and showed me a picture and said you just got drafted, and I was like, 'Shut up, no I didn't, you guys are just messing with me,'" Pierson recalled.
The Cubs would have to wait.
"I was honest, because I wasn't in the shape where I could go and compete very well at that point. So he said we want you to go to college and we want you to get stronger. But we want you to know we know your name, like we know who you are and your name is out there," he said.
In the meantime Pierson is taking it one step at a time.
"We're just so proud of how far he's come. And the fact that he's still hasn't let up," his mother said.
"People tell me what I'm doing is amazing. But to me I kind of expect it from myself," Pierson Gibis said.
Help save lives by donating blood at this year's 5th Annual Great Chicago Blood Drive on Jan. 16 at one of three locations: the CDW in Vernon Hills, on the seventh floor for the Merchandise Mart and the Drake Oak Brook Hotel. Each location will be open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Make an appointment by downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor App by visiting redcrossblood.org (enter sponsor code: ABC7Chicago) or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Wauconda native diagnosed with cancer forced to pass on Cubs draft