Photo source: www.fredhutch.org
Living with a chronic illness requires a degree of fortitude that is different than just making it through a normal day. It requires a huge adjustment in lifestyle to make sure health is at the forefront.
While anyone living with a chronic illness exhibits both bravery and perseverance, sometimes those who have gone above and beyond in not only surviving with a chronic condition, but thriving in spite of it are specially acknowledged. The Hutch Award is just one example of a recognition given out every year to highlight individuals who have exhibited particular courage and strength.
About the Hutch Award
The Hutch Award was established in 1965 to honor the legacy of Fred Hutchinson. Hutchinson was a baseball player for the Detroit Tigers and also served as a coach and manager for three different teams. In 1964, Fred Hutchinson died of lung cancer at the young age of 45. Hutchinson was originally from Seattle, Washington, so each year, the Hutch Award is presented to a worthy recipient at luncheon designed to both honor the recipient and the award’s namesake and to raise funds for ongoing research. In addition to establishing the Hutch Award, Bob Prince, Jim Enright, and Ritter Collett also created a scholarship for medical students to further honor their departed friend’s legacy.
Since its establishment, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has raised an enormous amount of funds for the ongoing development and research of cancer. The Center has been integral to helping develop new and successful methods for detecting and treating cancer and for furthering the fight against cancer.
The Hutch Award not only honors the late Fred Hutchinson, but it also offers the Center a chance to honor an individual who embodies the same spirit of persistence that its namesake did. Every year, the Center chooses one individual who is an active member of Major League Baseball (MLB) who exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire and who has demonstrated what it looks like to persevere through adversity. This award has gone to many individuals who have overcome illnesses such as leukemia, lymphoma, and other forms of cancer. Ultimately, the Hutch Award is a chance to continue raising awareness about the need to keep up the fight against cancer, and a chance to acknowledge someone who has embodied that fight in their own life.
About Jake Diekman
This year, the Hutch Award was given to Jake Diekman. Diekman is currently a relief pitcher for the Texas Rangers. Diekman has been battling ulcerative colitis for most of his life, since he was only 10 years old.
Because of his difficult and long struggle with ulcerative colitis, Diekman had to undergo surgery in 2017 to have his entire large intestine removed. There wasn’t another treatment option. Diekman ultimately had to undergo three different surgeries at the Mayo Clinic. After the first, he was in the hospital for 15 days. During his recovery, Diekman reported that his wife Amanda only left his side for about two hours. During those two hours, she simply had to leave the room because the pain was too much for Diekman to bear.
Although the surgery that Diekman underwent was long and laborious with an extensive recovery timeframe, he pulled through. On September 1st 2017, Diekman was able to play for the first time all season. When he stepped up to the mound, he promptly struck out the first batter from the Los Angeles Angels that he faced, and helped the Rangers to go on to seal a 10-9 victory over their opposing team. It was a great way for Diekman to re-enter his career as a baseball player, and a triumphant moment in more ways than one. Although Diekman may still have some recovering to do, he’s certainly on his way.
While in Seattle to receive the Hutch Award and attend the annual luncheon, Jake and Amanda Diekman were given the chance to tour the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center facility. It’s a state of the art complex that has benefitted from the tremendous fundraising the organization has been able to complete over the years, and it’s got a great team of doctors and researchers making incredible headway towards finding a cure for cancer.
While touring the facility, Jake and Amanda had the chance to interact with Dr. Jerry Radich. Radich and his team have been working on improving medical providers’ ability to diagnose chronic myeloid leukemia. At this point, they are able to diagnose with just four droplets of blood. Essentially, individuals can supply four droplets of blood on a small paper card and the facility can then analyze this blood to determine whether or not the individual has the disease. In addition to improving the ability to diagnose this form of cancer, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center also partnered with a Seattle based non-profit, the Max Foundation, so that any individual who is diagnosed using this cutting edge method will also receive treatment for free.
In addition to pursuing groundbreaking research into the origins of cancer and working to find a cure for the disease, the Center also includes a wall of memorabilia designed to honor the man whose legacy this Center and organization remember. Diekman, and all his predecessors before him, are part of this legacy. Their ongoing fight embodies the spirit of persistence even in the face of overwhelming trials, a spirit that we all must embody if we are ever to finally find a cure.
There isn’t just one person every year fighting boldly against a chronic condition such as ulcerative colitis or a life-threatening form of cancer. But it is important to recognize public individuals who have made it their goal to fight with bravery and steadfastness, and to use whatever platform they have available to contribute in the fight against these illnesses. Fred Hutchinson didn’t have long to fight after he was diagnosed with lung cancer, but during the short time he did have he embodied a spirit that was bent on overcoming great adversity. Like Fred, there are countless other athletes in the MLB and other sports who demonstrate what it means to overcome hardship, even when it looks like that hardship might be impossible to fight. The Hutch Award is given out every year to remember the legacy of Fred Hutchinson, and to remind us that his legacy lives on today. Through the ongoing work of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and through the countless other individuals that have modeled their fight after Fred’s, the spirit of the Hutch Award defies adversity and overcomes.
Read more about this year’s Hutch Award at Fred Hutch.org.