TAMPA, Fla. — Winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy is the greatest achievement in football, but a Tampa man was awarded his own Lombardi for winning a whole different kind of battle.
“I was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma at the age of 27; it was October 2007,” said Joshua Rivera.
Rivera was given just a 15% chance to survive.
“With the help of my family and my friends and above all my physicians, I was able to quickly put that data point behind me and really focus on getting better,” said Rivera.
The following 22 months were the toughest of his life.
“I had 1,000 hours of chemotherapy, 23 radiation treatments and six surgeries over the course of that time,” said Rivera.
Rivera said if he made it out alive, he would dedicate the rest of his life to finding a cure.
“I wanted to give back to the organization that helped save my life, in this case, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center,” said Rivera.
Rivera began volunteering on trips to his native land of Puerto Rico.
“There is not enough resources, especially potentially in the medical community when it comes to cancer research, access to clinical trials, access to advocacy,” said Rivera.
He eventually accepted a full-time position with the Moffitt Cancer Center.
“I became the MC for their annual fundraising event Miles for Moffitt,” said Rivera.
Rivera’s work over the past decade gained the attention of the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation. This year he was awarded a replica of the Super Bowl trophy for his leadership.
“It just takes me back to the day I was diagnosed, and how far I’ve come and how far my family has come, together we went through this journey,” said Rivera.
Rivera said he never expected a trophy, but just like the Buccaneers, he’s having a lot of fun with it.
“One of my best friends here in St. Pete, he owns a boat, so we are going to replicate the Brady to Brate toss,” said Rivera.
However, he also understands there is still more work to do all kidding aside.
“Most important thing to remember here is we still haven’t found the cure, and we’re still looking for that,” said Rivera.