UNH athlete gives up season for stranger
Published: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 03:04
A humble hero: an easy fit for track and field senior Cameron Lyle, who stepped foot into Massachusetts General Hospital last Thursday, April 24, and ended his athletic career just weeks shy of the championship season in favor of saving another man’s life.
The journey started when the bone marrow registry came to UNH during Lyle’s sophomore year.
“We went to the dining hall together ... and were walking by,” fellow thrower and roommate C.J. Dupruis said. “We got slopped together [and] … assumed it would never happen.”
But about two months ago, Lyle got the call to be told that he was a possible match, and he was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital for additional testing, including a full physical. Then five weeks ago, he was informed that he was an official match.
“It’s all been moving pretty fast since then,” Lyle said.
Lyle’s decision to give bone marrow meant that he is now unable to finish the track and field season – more importantly, the championship season. He is human, and felt nostalgia for his decision.
“I missed the entire championship season for this,” Lyle said, his voice trailing off. “I was pretty upset at first because I said, ‘Yes,’ to the marrow registry right away.”
Originally, Lyle had been nervous about telling UNH Head Coach Joe Boulanger about his decision.
“I was, like, terrified to tell him,” he said.
But Boulanger’s reaction was a 180-degree flop from what he had expected.
“He was just looking for reinforcement in his decision, which was the only one that could be made,” Boulanger said. “When you put athletics ahead of life, then you’re in the wrong boat. “
When asked about Lyle’s character, Boulanger said he “is just that.” He smiled. “He’s a character.”
Fellow thrower Bacall Liset reinforces his character.
“He definitely brings a smile to the team,” Liset said. “The funniest guy.”
Lyle chuckled about the effects of his bone marrow donation.
“I could probably put my shoes on now, but my girlfriend’s been dressing me … because I can’t bend over,” Lyle said. “The needles [used to withdraw bone marrow] are about the thickness of a pen; they’re huge needles.”
Though the needles were daunting, Lyle was unfazed. His fear rested in the general anesthesia to “go under” for the procedure. He was worried that he’d wake up half way through the procedure, according to his girlfriend, Camile Mirabito.
He didn’t wake up early, and the procedure was a success. In fact, instead feeling nauseous like most patients feel after waking up, Lyle was hungry and asked his girlfriend to go get him some food.
“They were like ‘Are you okay?’ and I was like ‘What? Can I get a cheeseburger or something?’” Lyle said.
Mirabito has been there every step of the way.
“She drove me to the hospital, she stayed with me in the hospital,” he said. “She’s the best.”
“[He was] attacked by reporters outside the hotel,” Mirabito said. “He kind of thought it was going to fly completely under the radar.”
The fame hasn’t stopped.
Lyle’s humility is attracting a lot attention now, though, both local and national. Around town, he’s soaking up free food and drinks.
“I was going to pay,” Lyle said, smirking.
According to Dupruis, Mirabito was Lyle’s support through all the interviews,
“She helps [Lyle] out with … everything,” Dupruis said. “He [gets] nervous through interviews.”
Lyle’s fame has given him a voice to spread awareness about registering for the bone marrow registry. The registry was at the university on Friday, Apr. 26 and Monday, Apr. 29.
Though she was nervous from the moment she found out that Lyle was a match, Mirabito tried to hide her fear.
“He was calming me down when really I should have been calming him down,” Mirabito said.
At Lyle’s last meet, his teammates came over to rally for him during his throws.
“We were throwing shot put – the last event of the day,” Dupruis said. “Everyone came over … [and gave] lots of cheers.”
The event became an emotional moment for everyone as Dupruis gave Lyle a hug.
“They gave me a pretty cool send off, it was pretty emotional,” Lyle said. But no tears, he assured. “I held it in pretty well.”
Liset was amazed when she found out about his decision to end his career early.
Her father, and coach for the throwers, George Liset, was impressed but not surprised with Lyle’s choice.
“It just validated the kind of person he is, the kind of person he’s become,” he said.