Buxton’s season ends early

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Photo by Brad Curnow

Junior forward Austin Buxton of the Utah Valley University men’s soccer team has been ruled out for the entire 2016 season after a recurrence of testicular cancer. Buxton was originally diagnosed in February of 2016 and underwent surgery to have the cancer removed. However, after routine blood tests every two months, Buxton was informed by doctors that his latest test returned positive for cancer the week the season started.

Buxton’s latest blood test was the same week UVU played an exhibition game in Park City, Utah against the U-17 U.S. National Team. Despite playing in the exhibition, Buxton said he didn’t notice anything different during his performance.

Doctors have worked with Buxton in an effort to pinpoint the location of the cancer, but have not been able to find its exact location despite CT scans. Although, Buxton said the doctors are optimistic about his outlook with the use of chemo therapy. Buxton started his treatment Aug. 29, the Monday after the men’s soccer season opened.

UVU head coach Greg Maas informed the team of Buxton’s condition after practice the Wednesday before the opener against Washington. The group left the huddle somber.

“We brought the team in with Austin and I explained what the situation was and kind of what the road to recovery’s going to be, and the guys were obviously down, but fully there in support of Austin and his recovery,” said Maas.

During the 2015 season, Buxton tied Paul Hoffmeister for second on the team with six goals scored on the season.

Senior Skyler Milne says losing Buxton is a big blow for the team, but it adds extra motivation for the group.

“It really put things into perspective,” said Milne. “Don’t take anything for granted, makes you just want to come out here and work hard every day, play hard every day because you know you’re playing for him now, too, because he would kill to be out here.”

The Wolverines showed their support for their missing teammate as they took the field in the season opener wearing purple wrist bands with Buxton’s number 23 written on them. The team also takes his jersey with them to road games.

To match the effects of hair loss from chemo therapy, Buxton recently shaved his head and many of his teammates followed suit in support of his battle.

With his teammates nearby during his fight, Buxton and his doctors are optimistic he’ll return to the pitch next season.

“They haven’t said anything for sure, but doctors are very confident after these four rounds of chemo therapy that it should be gone for now,” said Buxton. “So I should be back in the spring, training and everything. Should be good for next season.”

Buxton is scheduled for four rounds of chemo therapy. Each round lasts three weeks and consists of one week of treatment with two weeks of rest.