Cancer struck Widener senior Lee Thomas when he barely was a year old. When talking to him, you’d never know it and that’s how he likes it.
Thomas is a four-year member of the Widener University Pride’s golf team and has been successful, closing in the top 40 at the last two Commonwealth Conference Championships to go with a trio of top 10 finishes at other tournaments over the last two campaigns.
But looking at him compete, something different makes him stand out to everyone but himself.
The Haddon Heights, NJ senior wears a prosthetic right leg after suffering from rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of cancer in which cells are thought to arise from skeletal muscle progenitors that either are attached to muscle tissue or wrapped around another anatomic location.
The cancer was found in his right heel, which was amputated when he was 16 months old. Thomas still has his entire right leg and walking with a prosthetic appears to be a way of life.
“Nothing was wrong because I didn’t know what it was like to have two feet,” Thomas said. “I learned how to walk with this and it is the only way I know how to walk. I go through two different legs a year and I have a bag full of legs in my room. I’ve also made donations to people in Africa who use prosthetics.”
That didn’t stop Thomas from competing in athletics. He played soccer until he was in junior high school and took up golf at age 10.
“I never looked at it as being handicapped,” Thomas added. “There were times I kicked the soccer ball and my leg would fall off. The ref would stop the game and looked shell shocked.”
“When I was growing up, I believed I could do anything,” he said. “We were playing a (golf) match against Neumann (University) and a player said to me, ‘I’m really proud of you.’ And I said, ‘What?’ And I thought, ‘Oh my leg. I’m handicapped.’”
Thomas’ future is bright with a job lined up as an application developer, managing credit card applications at JP Morgan & Chase upon his graduation this May with a degree in Computer Science.