Mill Valley lineman proves tough on and off the field following bout with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

SHAWNEE, Kan. -- Football players pride themselves on being tough.

One Mill Valley High School Jaguar might be strength in human form, since he's survived a challenge that leaves many people for dead.

Every down Bobby Dyche adds to his career is another moment to celebrate. Two years ago, as a 13-year-old, Dyche says he'd lost his physical stamina and constantly felt sick. Doctors discovered a large tumor behind his esophagus, which began his fight against non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He'd need eight rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the cancerous cells.

"I'd go in for, like, a week at a time and then, have a two-week break after chemo," Dyche said. "After it would happen, your whole body is drained. You're really tired and stuff. You always have a really bad taste in your mouth."

And while Bobby fought cancer, his schoolmates from Mill Valley High School came calling, often visiting him at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. They created a fundraising effort called "Bobby Strong," a slogan seen often on T-shirts around the school's corridors.

"It was a relief," Cindy Dyche, Bobby's mother, said. "Many happy tears and tears of joy. I was so thankful he was in remission because a lot of children don't get that told to them."

Cancer is behind Bobby now, and he's into his first full season of junior varsity football since being given a clean bill of health last July. Dyche says he thought about the school's football and wrestling programs the entire time he was ill, and qualifying for Mill Valley's varsity squad, which won the 2015 KSHSAA 5A Championship, is a goal.

"It feels really good to come out here and feel like my normal self again. I'm not really sick like last year," Bobby Dyche said.

"We talk to our kids all the time about how they're going to face adversity throughout life. It's how they respond to that. Obviously, Bobby responded the right way," Jaguars Coach Joel Applebee said.

"I was just really proud that I beat it, and I'm better now. I'm just happy," Bobby Dyche said.

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Statistics show close to 16,000 people age 21 and younger are diagnosed with cancer every year.

Dyche is expected to be on the sideline when Mill Valley hosts Blue Valley on Friday night at 7 p.m.