Less than five months after being diagnosed with Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Chicago White Sox pitcher Liam Hendriks is back on the mound, cancer-free.
In a remarkable display of courage, resilience and determination, the 34-year-old Australian hurler triumphantly emerged from the bullpen in the eighth inning of Monday night's game against the Los Angeles Angels.
"Liam! Liam! Liam!" the crowd of more than 23,000 fans chanted as he jogged out under his usual home light show.
There he stood in the center of the diamond, surveying the stadium and soaking it all in.
"It was great to get back out there," he said. "Getting back, putting cleats on, running out, doing all that. I felt good, I felt strong, I felt comfortable out there."
Charles Rex Arbogast / AP
While Hendriks gave up three hits, two runs and a walk in one inning, the rough outing was overshadowed by his remarkable journey.
"It was humbling going out there and walking out there and seeing the amount of people wearing my shirts. Just the amount of people having signs or flags or anything like that," he said after the game. "The amount of people that were chanting when I came into the game, it was a very humbling and sobering moment for me."
After finding some lumps on his neck last summer, Hendriks was diagnosed with the advanced stage blood cancer in December and immediately stepped away from baseball to undergo a grueling treatment regimen that included immunotherapy and chemotherapy. Then in April, Hendriks posted a video online of him ringing the "victory bell" after receiving his final round of treatment.
"Being able to ring this victory bell has been one of the most emotional things I've ever done," he said. "I cannot thank my team of doctors and nurses enough for coming up with the best medical plan for me. No words can express the gratitude I have for them saving my life."
Just 15 days later, Hendriks announced he was officially cancer-free.
Charles Rex Arbogast / AP
With his health restored and his spirit unyielding, Monday's moment was a testament not only to Hendriks' physical recovery but also his mental resilience. Baseball fans and others around the globe have rallied behind him, flooding social media with messages of encouragement and celebrating his indomitable spirit. The hashtags #TeamLiam and #LiamStrong have trended on various social media platforms, serving as a rallying cry for those seeking inspiration and hope.
"I hate the White Sox... can't stand them," one Twitter user wrote. "With that said, I will root for Liam Hendriks every day until the end of time. That man is a damn hero."
"I got goosebumps," another user said of his return. "What an atmosphere for the @whitesox. He struck out cancer."
As Hendriks continues to write his remarkable story of triumph, his story serves as a beacon of hope for others.
Hendriks, alongside his wife Kristi, also presented the Lymphoma Research Foundation with a check for $104,189 at the game.
"Realizing the impact that my wife and I have had around this city with what we've been able to do, it's extremely an emotional time," he said. "We're both very animated people as anyone watching the game could've told. But it was a great feeling."