|Former major-leaguer Chris Duncan, in better days. (Getty Images)|
You may remember Chris Duncan as the somewhat lumbering masher who provided the 2006 Cardinals with some sorely needed left-handed pop during their unlikely championship run. Or you may know him as the son of legendary pitching coach Dave Duncan. Now, though, you can think of Duncan as one of the millions of people around this world doing brave battle with cancer.
In Duncan's case, he's recovering from major, life-disrupting and life-threatening surgery to remove a brain tumor. He's just 31 years of age.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes movingly of Duncan's determination in the face of an awful diagnosis and an uncertain future. A sampling:
Former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was among the first outside the Duncan family to hear about Chris' diagnosis. His initial reaction: “It's so completely, incredibly unfair.”
Duncan required a 6½-hour surgery Oct. 10 that included removing part of his skull. Unconscious for the first half of the procedure, Duncan was roused to read flash cards as surgeons probed his brain for the final three hours. Since a brain contains no nerves, Duncan felt nothing.
Placed into coma as part of his recovery, Duncan awoke several days later. Swelling in the brain left him unable to communicate for about 72 hours. Six days following surgery Duncan remained incapable of saying his name. The seventh day brought remarkable improvement. He spoke more easily. His personality returned.
The bitter coincidence is that Duncan's mother is also battling brain cancer, in her case a more advanced kind. It was her illness that prompted Dave Duncan to step away from the game. And now this.
Please do read all of Strauss's piece. It's worth your while, and it's of course worth sparing some thoughts, prayers and well wishes for the entire Duncan family. If their battles come down to strength, defiance and relentless will, then they'll surely prevail. Our hopes are with Chris and his mother.