Staying positive through cancer diagnosis and Achilles tear: Virginia Tech lacrosse players share story on TikTok

Two VT Lacrosse players smile together.
Two VT Lacrosse players smile together.(Ashley Boles)
Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 6:32 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A seven-second video. That’s all it took to get hundreds of thousands of views and tens of thousands of likes.

But to understand the video, you have to understand the story that led up 19-year-old Mary Griffin and 22-year-old Taylor Caskey falling on the ground with a Beyoncé song playing in the background.

Griffin, a sophomore and defensive player, excitedly entered her sophomore year. Her freshman season didn’t go as expected with COVID-19 interrupting things in March of last year. The first few months of her second year were going well. Then at practice one day, she felt a sharp pain in her side.

“This one just, like, felt different, so I ran off the field to my trainer and just said something is not right, like this is not normal. I got a CT scan and a couple days later the results came back that I had a tumor.”

A biopsy on the tumor revealed Griffin had a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Thankfully it was metastasizing slowly. But it was there, and needed to be removed. Surgery was the answer. Griffin is now without a spleen, part of her pancreas, and the tumor. No chemotherapy or radiation required.

Griffin wasn’t sure what the surgery and her recovery process meant for her lacrosse season, though. She surely didn’t think she would be back on a field two months later.

Taylor Caskey didn’t think she would be off the field for her fifth and final season after an unexpected injury that now leaves her in a cast.

“I asked my trainer and I was like, do you think this is serious? And she’s like, I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you, this is bad,” recalls Caskey.

That conversation happened at the end of January. Since then, Caskey has had surgery and will soon be in a boot. She’s still on the field though, just in a new role. Her teammates now call her “Coach Caskey.”

As for the TikTok, that happened without much planning. It was made in jest, but the girls hoped it would get attention.

“When I got home I’m on the phone with her and I’m like, ‘Mary, we have 300 likes and my teammate is sitting there and she’s like, ‘no, you have 2,000 likes!”

2,000 likes turned into over 80,000 likes in just over a week. The views and likes keep increasing, too. It’s something the teammates can look at and laugh at together, despite all they’ve been through.

“I think just like being down on ourselves, down on situations we can’t control, that just dictates how you are feeling and your mindset towards it all,” said Griffin.

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