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Josh Kickbush has defeated cancer and is back on the gridiron

Josh Kickbush is pictured at the start of the Hastings football game against Cretin-Derham Hall. Kickbush was honored prior to the game by his teammates. He faced testicular cancer and is now cancer free. Star Gazette photo by Chad RIchardson

Just before football season started, Hastings High School senior Josh Kickbush knew something was wrong.

During the preseason physical that every player goes through, his concerns proved valid. Kickbush had testicular cancer, doctors told him.

Two days later at 5 a.m., Kickbush arrived at the hospital for surgery and he emerged six hours later cancer free. He'll be checked periodically to ensure everything looks normal, but the worst part for Kickbush is behind him.

"It was pretty crazy," he said. "It's not a good way to start your senior year."

Kickbush missed the first part of the football season, but has since been able to rejoin the team, first at practices and now at games. He has played in the past three games for the Raiders. Being back on the field just a month after having surgery to remove the cancer is something Kickbush isn't taking for granted.

"It's a rush," he said. "It's a lot better than sitting there watching. I have had a lot of support from my team, from the parents and the community. I just want to say 'Thank you' to the community for supporting me and helping me out through everything."

Before the game against Cretin-Derham Hall on Sept. 21, Kickbush was honored. He was presented with a football signed by his teammates. Later, his wrestling coach (Josh McLay) and friend (J.T. Malm) made T-shirts for him.

All that support has made it easier for Kickbush to be positive through everything.

"You have to keep a positive mental attitude," he said. "This sucks, but you have to keep going. You can't get down about it. Mr. (Paul) Vaith told me that, you're going to go through life and there will be bumps. You just have to keep a positive mental attitude about everything."

Now what?

After graduation, Kickbush had planned to go into the Navy. With his scheduled checkups every two months for two years, that plan has to be put on hold.

He said he plans to attend Dakota County Technical College to study welding or to be a heavy equipment operator. After those two years of checkups are complete, Kickbush said he may consider the Navy again.

He is the son of Jody Robinson and Mike Kickbush.