Rizzo celebrates 8-year anniversary of remission

Milestone moment for Cubs star comes on Pediatric Cancer Awareness Day

Rizzo celebrates 8-year anniversary of remission

CHICAGO -- The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo remembers learning that he was in remission as if it were yesterday. Friday marked the eight-year anniversary of that date, and coincidentally, it's the same day that Major League Baseball chose to raise awareness of pediatric cancer.

"I remember getting the news, and I could see it and remember where I was," Rizzo said Friday. "It's so far in the past, but when I think about it, it was like it was yesterday."

Rizzo was diagnosed with limited stage classical Hodgkin lymphoma in April 2008, when he was a Minor Leaguer in the Red Sox organization. One of the people who inspired him was pitcher Jon Lester, whom he met in Boston.

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Since joining the Cubs, Rizzo started the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, which has raised more than $2 million with a walk-a-thon in his hometown of Parkland, Fla., plus "Cook-Off for Cancer" and "Laugh-Off for Cancer" fundraisers.

"I've come a long way and done a lot of really good things on the baseball field, but a lot ... better off the field," Rizzo said. "I'm really grateful today to be where I'm at. I think about it more today than other days, but it's nice."

Rizzo posted on Twitter: "8 years ago TODAY I was told I was in remission. I remember crying and hugging my family thinking how lucky we were."

He added: "Today we are going gold to recognize those families who are battling cancer who will never receive the news my family did."

Rizzo, 27, noted that only four percent of cancer funding goes to pediatric cancer research, and he said, "We must change this and make sure every kid has a fighting chance. #LetsGoGold."

Major League Baseball launched a league-wide effort to raise childhood cancer awareness in partnership with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). All players, coaches, umpires and grounds-crew members wore gold-ribbon decals and gold wristbands to further promote awareness for childhood cancer, which is the leading cause of death by disease in children aged 15 and under in the United States.

Rizzo is a regular visitor at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, and he has created a room there for families whose children are receiving treatment.

"Sometimes I'll meet some 15-, 16-, 17-year-olds, and it'll hit me right in the head," Rizzo said. "It's tough sometimes, because these kids are going to college and their dreams are to do this and that, and they're sick. A lot of the times, I see kids who have had way longer treatments. You just try to be positive."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.