Eric Lansinger welcomes a good battle. Every time he digs into the batter’s box or takes his outfield position, his competitive nature takes over. His approach was the same when he got the news of his diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma five years ago.
Eric started playing little league baseball when he was eight years old and eventually migrated to playing travel baseball with the Dig In Baseball organization based in Gaithersburg, Md. Baseball became a passion for Eric, who quickly developed into a standout player in the area.
In the winter of his eighth grade year, Eric and his family were slammed with the diagnosis of Hodkin’s lymphoma. For the next four months, chemotherapy became his toughest battle of his life.
On April 21, 2013, Eric got the call his family and him were waiting for. He won his battle with cancer and it was soon time to return to the battles on the field.
In his first game back that summer, he told himself he would ease back into the game by taking the first few pitches. After watching the starting pitcher from the opposing team warm-up, Eric knew he had waited long enough to hit. He crushed the first pitch he saw but hit it right to the center fielder.
“It was just amazing to be back on the field again.”
Eric became an ambassador for the Kyle’s Kamp Memorial Day tournament for the next four years, helping teams raise money for Childhood Cancer. He also took the initiative to start his own toy drive over the holidays for the National Children’s Medical Center in Washington D.C.
“It meant everything to me to represent Kyle’s Kamp and those who continue to fight cancer,” Lansinger said. “The things Kyle’s Kamp did for me and what they do for other children with cancer is amazing. I can’t say enough about what they do.”
Eric made the varsity team his freshman year at Demascus and connected for a home run in his first game, launching his four-year career that would culminate in the school’s first regional title in over a decade.
Lansinger also made strides with the Mid-Atlantic Red Sox, landing on the radar of several Division I schools. He ultimately decided on the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and appeared in seven games this spring as a freshman.
In April, Eric’s family made the near seven hour trip to Charlotte to celebrate his five-year anniversary of beating Hodgkin's. While Eric and his family were thankful of his good health, they also all shared a sense of relief for the future.
“It's was a big weight lifted off our shoulders. You don’t have to think of the ‘what ifs’ anymore,” Lansinger said. “Family has always been big for me. I only get to see them a couple times a year now that I’m out of state and it was nice to just see my family again.”
This summer also marks five years since Gavin Rupp lost his battle with brain cancer. Even though the two boys never met, Eric always felt close to Gavin and was inspired by his story.
“I can’t explain why I had that connection with Gavin. When I heard of his passing, it was tough,” Lansinger said. “I would write ‘GR15’ behind the mound when I pitched. It was just something I did to remember him and to always keep going.”
Eric still draws inspiration from children who battle cancer. Eric hopes to continue his holiday toy drive and further support Kyle’s Kamp and their initiative to help kids and their families beat cancer.
“It’s something special to see the fire in their eye,” Lansinger said. “These kids are 10, 12 years younger than when I was going through chemotherapy and it took everything out of me.”
“I will continue to fight for those kids until the day I die.”
Left to Right: Eric's first day of chemotherapy in 2013. In April, Eric celebrated five years cancer free. Photos provided by Eric Lansinger.