Courage. It is a word that bends many different ways. Cancer. It is a word that doesn’t show mercy and sometimes has a long and tragic meaning. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of courageous people have lost battles with cancer and paid with their lives. Dallas Blocker is one of the courageous who survived and to hear his story weakened me. Mad respect to the big 6’9″ Youngstown State Senior for openly talking about his fight with the evil disease.
Paneech: Talk to me about the battle you had with cancer.
Blocker: As of right now, I am free of it. At first it was rough because you are not used to it. You think, ‘old people get cancer’ not people who are 21 years of age, so it really hit hard at first. I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I went through four rounds of chemotherapy and I would go five days a week for about six hours a day. I would sit in a chair while they pump stuff into my blood through an IV. For the first couple of weeks I was fine, and I was functioning as normal. After that second time, it kind of hit me. All of my hair started falling out and off of my body, and my energy level went way down. I was struggling to go up a flight of steps. I was eating real good, I like mexican and spicier foods, but by the third or fourth treatment I could not hold anything down. I would be with Andy Timko in the Summer, and we would like to go out to eat. We were just talking about it the other day, he would see me run off to the bathroom and he knew I just couldn’t keep anything down.
Paneech: Did your fight with cancer give you a different outlook on the life you lead?
Blocker: Going through what I did, I look at every day as a blessing to be here. Days are more important to me now. Before all of this, I would just go through life with a ‘who cares about this’ attitude. Now I am really concentrating on school and my future because I am not going to be playing basketball forever. I am transitioning to being an adult and will graduate with a degree to teach in a year. The whole thing has opened me up and made me a more mature person.
Paneech: Using a bad situation to make something positive from can transition to this basketball team you are on. How does YSU pick itself up and move forward?
Blocker: We [the five seniors] are looking at it as our last chance. We all have a role on this team and have to buy into Coach Slocum’s system. Right now, not everyone has bought into the system and we are playing as individuals. We actually had a meeting after practice where DeAndre Mays stood up and reminded everyone that everyone is starting to fall off and we need to circle the wagons and get back into it. We have eleven games left in the season and if a team gets hot in this sport at the right time they could go pretty far. We still believe we can get hot enough to still make it to the NCAA Tournament if we can get going that well.
Paneech: What changes can Coach Slocum make and how do you compete with a team like Butler?
Blocker: Butler is just an all-around great team. They are beatable and have their flaws though. We had them on their backs at times but had a bunch of unforced errors that they took advantage of and that is what they [Butler] do best. Coach Slocum wears his heart on his sleeve. You always know where he is at emotionally. When he is down, he is really down. He tells us everyday at practice that he is not going to change, and he never does. He has very good character and I like the attitude he brings to practice.
Paneech: What NBA player do you like?
Blocker: I’m not really a big fan of the NBA, I would much rather watch college basketball. If I had to pick a player I would say Kevin Garnett because of the way he prides himself as a great defensive player.
Paneech: I have seen a little change on offense where it seems the big guys are getting more chances to score. What brought that on?
Blocker: I brought that up a couple of weeks ago. DeAndre [Mays] and Sirlester [Martin] are going to shoot the ball. After one of them hits a few shots, the defense is going to adjust to them, so why not dump it down in the post. When we score a couple of times, the defense will adjust again and then we can kick it back out to our pure shooters.
One Word Answers
Favorite Meal Of The Day: Dinner.
Best Fast Food: Taco Bell.
Biggest Phobia: Maybe being claustrophobic, maybe.
Worst Habit: (laughs) Lying.
Favorite Soft Drink: Dr. Pepper. Cherry Dr. Pepper is ok too.
What Do You Get On Your Pizza: Meat Lover’s.
Last Book You Read Not For School: The New Moon from the Twilight Series.
The Hardest Thing You Ever Had To Do: Survive Cancer.
Worst Class You Had At YSU: Math for teachers. I got a B but the content was so boring.
The Biggest World Problem That Needs Fixed: The economy.
Favorite Childhood Toy: My Ultimate Warrior action figures.