Cancer survivor Meredith Bissette back in uniform for USF
Since being blindsided by a life-threatening diagnosis this time last year, USF junior Meredith Bissette has struggled valiantly for a return to the life of a normal college student-athlete.
Hence the reason Saturday represented a triumph of sorts in Bissette's battle against chordoma cancer. For the first time since March 26, 2016, Bissette suited up for a Bulls softball game.
What's more, she started. Coach Ken Eriksen penciled in Bissette as the Bulls' designated player against East Carolina before inserting a substitute prior to her first at-bat.
She received a standing ovation upon being replaced.
"I don't even know how to put it into words, really," said Bissette's mother, Marlene, who observed Saturday's poignant developments from behind home plate.
"It's kind of overwhelming, it's like tears coming down. Just to see her back and have some kind of normalcy, this is where we wanted to get to."
An illness that affects one in a million people annually, chordoma cancer can surface anywhere along the spine, from the head to the tailbone. Chordomas are normally slow-growing, but are relentless and can recur after treatment, according to chordomafoundation.org.
Marlene Bissette said Meredith -- the third of her and husband Greg's four kids -- has had "a couple of setbacks here lately," but is doing better now.
Bissette was hospitalized when the Bulls were presented their 2016 American Athletic Conference title rings in early February, so Eriksen presented Bissette's to her before Saturday's first pitch.
"She's such a hard worker," Marlene Bissette said. "And even two days when she got home (from a recent hospitalization) she was like, 'All right, I'm meeting with my counselor, I'm getting my classes in order. I want to see how much this has put me behind.'
"I was like, 'I guess that's why she's pulled through all this.'"