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A coach's inspiring story

Treasure Valley basketball coach beats all odds
Posted at 4:16 AM, Nov 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-24 10:00:04-05

"I just kind of went to bed every night thinking, tomorrow will be a better day, tomorrow will be a better day," said Derek McCormick, Bishop Kelly varsity girls' basketball coach.

A Bishop Kelly graduate, Derek McCormick is now the varsity girls' basketball coach at his alma mater.

He already has one state championship and led his team to the championship game again this season.

But after the season ended, Derek says something didn't feel quite right.

"I just thought I was fatigued and which is not uncommon, ya know, but finally just, I couldn't shake it so I went to one of the doc in the box type places," said McCormick.

Doctors had him get a string of tests which included a blood test.

"Like four hours later they called me and told me I needed to come into the emergency room because I was anemic and, and about an hour after that the ER doctor told me I had leukemia," said McCormick.

Derek says for him the whole process was a whirlwind.

"Twenty-four hours after that I was doing, twenty four hours, seven days, of chemo," said McCormick.

He says when he first found out, he was shocked and angry.

"You, you went from playing in the state championship game to three weeks later, you’re in a hospital bed. I don't know, I don't even really know how to explain it to be honest. It's, shocking, so," said McCormick.

Derek was in St. Luke's for 28 days and after that he did outpatient treatment.

But his doctor told him the only way to have a better opportunity to survive, would be to have a bone marrow transplant.

"So then we started testing my family and my brother was one-hundred percent match," said McCormick.

This summer, Derek moved to Seattle to get the transplant in July.

"So, they call that your new birth date because it's like, they bring you down to zero and then they pump you full of the stem cells," said McCormick.

Derek's goal was to get back to coaching this year and that goal came true.

"It keeps me motivated and it also keeps my mind working verses just sitting there and thinking about, because when you’re in that situation and there's really nothing you can do, all you think about is cancer," said McCormick.

Derek says he had lots of support from the community and now he wants to give back.

He says when he was in the hospital in Seattle, he had some time to think.

"The hardest thing to see was the younger kids you know, because they just want to be out playing and you can tell they have good energy sometimes I feel like they didn't know they were sick you know, they were just running around like crazy you and there were some other kids that you know want to get out of the wheelchair and they want to move around and just like, it just makes you sad," said McCormick.

Derek says he knew he wanted to do something to help with pediatric cancer.

"And I think it's important to teach the kids that I’m around that we can do things whether it's through money or through time or whatever," said McCormick.

He has decided to donate his coaching salary to MSTI's pediatric oncology. 

He hopes his story will inspire others to help in any way they can as well.  

For more information on St. Luke's MSTI Pediatrics click here, https://www.stlukesonline.org/communities-and-locations/facilities/clinics/st-lukes-mountain-states-tumor-institute--pediatric-oncology-and-hematology