The Philadelphia Eagles have gotten major national attention for all their recent player additions. But a noticeable subtraction from the team’s workouts has had people searching for answers — until now.
Eagles starting wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who had missed camp because of what the media had been calling a “mysterious illness,” revealed to FOXSports.com on Wednesday that he has been struggling with a cancer scare.
Maclin told FOXSports.com in an exclusive interview that a false test led doctors to believe he had contracted a form of cancer known as lymphoma.
But after further testing, Maclin was given a clean bill of health and is ready to return to the field.
“That’s first and foremost, I want everyone to know I’m fine, I’m healthy,” Maclin told FOXSports.com on Wednesday, only an hour after receiving word from his doctor that his final test came back negative. “I was tested for everything, and every single test came back negative. I don’t have mono, I don’t have AIDS, leukemia — all the things people were guessing on, there was nothing. I was being tested for lymphoma and thank God everything has come back negative.
“I wanted my privacy on this until I had answers. I don’t like to talk unless I have all the answers about what I’m talking about. It was frustrating to hear all the rumors about me. It wasn’t until this morning that I finally got my final answer and thankfully I’m healthy and ready to return to football.”
Maclin’s life was turned upside down this offseason when he began experiencing rapid weight loss, iron anemia and irregular results from blood tests. He then was sent on a rather painful five-month journey to diagnose the ailment.
His difficult offseason became downright scary when, on May 11 — his birthday — a scan showed his lymph nodes were “enlarged and hot.” That’s a possible sign of lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic cells of the immune system.
Maclin then went through a series of painful tests, including the insertion of large, painful needles through his back and into his chest to gather biopsy samples.
A normal offseason regimen of sprints, lifting and route running suddenly was replaced with a grueling schedule of test upon test, including bone marrow exams and radiology scans, to rule out cancer and any other potentially life-threatening ailment.
“That’s nothing anyone ever wants to hear,” said Maclin, the Eagles’ first-round pick in the 2009 draft. “That’s a hard time — the thought that at any given time you can get that call that they found cancer. It was eating away at me, and it was hard for me to hide.
“I wanted to keep it private until I knew for sure what was going on, and the Eagles were amazing. They were one of the only ones who knew. My relationship with them is more than professional. They were like family during this.”
Because of the lockout, Maclin wasn’t able to address his health issues with Eagles head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder and had to face the ordeal without his normal support system. Instead, he said, he leaned on close family and his agents for support.
“That first day when the doctor sat me down and explained to me exactly what lymphoma is, that it’s a form of cancer, it hit me when I walked out of his office and I broke down,” Maclin said. “It was hard for me, but I had to remain positive.
“The crazy part was I put weight back on, I was working out, running routes. I felt fine, but the thought was always in the back of my mind that I could have cancer.”
Perhaps the most drastic test came a week ago when doctors removed lymph nodes through his belly button.
Maclin finally heard the news he was seeking on Wednesday afternoon, when doctors called to tell him he was in the clear.
So, now that cancer has been ruled out, what did sideline the Eagles wideout for all of training camp?
“It was all caused by an inflammatory virus,” Maclin said, “something that just runs its course through your body or you can treat with medicine. I didn’t need medicine. It’s just something I had to deal with.”
And so Maclin’s nightmare is over, thanks to the best news he and the Eagles could’ve received for a team already dubbed the NFL’s version of “The Dream Team” because of its offseason talent grab.
“I’m blessed by God,” he said. “Today was a sigh of relief. They’ll release me to play football, but we have to wait a little more until I’m healed from the procedure last week.
“Man, I don’t wish this on anybody. I look back at my whole life, I’ve already gone through so much. I already appreciate where I am and appreciate the game of football. I can’t wait to get back out there and just resume my normal life.”