Former Pitt offensive lineman Alex Officer was recently on the receiving end of some difficult news, as he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of cancer that doctors discovered in his knee after he experienced a recurring pain in the area, reported it and underwent two biopsies.
While cancer is daunting regardless of the circumstances, at least one aspect of this experience appears to be improving for Officer, as his brother Jerome Lewis reached out on his behalf to begin raising funds for his treatment on GoFundMe. Lewis noted on Tuesday night that the family was hoping to raise $100,000 for Officer in order to help with his looming medical costs.
“Alex was taken to the hospital where he received an MRI and X-ray,” Lewis wrote on the GoFundMe page. “His doctors then recommended he get a biopsy. … The following week, we were told they found cancer in Alex’s knee. He was later diagnosed with osteosarcoma.
“Alex’s sarcoma is in a very rare location and will require two separate rounds of chemotherapy and a surgery in between. I’m attempting to raise $100,000 to help my brother over this journey, and I’m asking you for your help on my way.”
Since the page was posted on Tuesday night, the response has been immense, with past and present members of the Pitt football team and even prominent professional athletes from the city coming through with generous donations to support one of their own in his time of need.
In fact, as of 10 p.m. Wednesday night, just over 24 hours since the GoFundMe page went up, over $30,000 had been raised on the strength of donations from more than 400 people.
Pitt running back Qadree Ollison reacted to the news on Wednesday. In addition to the two both being notable members of the Panthers offense last season and being one year apart at Pitt, Ollison and Officer both hail from the nearby communities in Upstate New York, as Ollison’s hometown is Niagara Falls and Officer’s hometown is Rochester.
Pitt running back Qadree Ollison discusses his good friend, former teammate and fellow western New York native Alex Officer, who was recently diagnosed with bone cancer. pic.twitter.com/J4kfhGg3b2— Craig Meyer (@CraigMeyerPG) September 19, 2018
“Me and AO are so close,” Ollison said during an interview, “He used to ride home with me back to Niagara Falls. … For something like that to just hit you, man, it really ... We’re all pulling for him. He’s our brother. I’m praying for his family. I’m praying for him.
“And just knowing AO, man, he’s gonna be fine. He’s gonna have a smile on his face every single day. He’s not gonna let it get him down. And he knows that he was here for five years as well, so he probably has about 500 brothers, people, staff rooting for him as well. So that’s tough. But I think he’s gonna come out stronger on the other side of it. I really believe that.”
Since concluding his career at Pitt earlier this year, Officer has had brief stints with the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, although neither of those opportunities ultimately panned out. His agent Jordan Byrd recently noted that Officer hopes to make a return to football.
Those who wish to contribute to the fund for Officer’s medical expenses can do so at https://www.gofundme.com/letsgoao.