A slipped disc in his neck forced 2012 Ryle High School graduate Jake Nutter to give up playing football at Heidelberg University after his freshman year, but he was soon faced with an even greater health concern just a few months later.
Nutter had moved back to the area at the end of the 2013 school year at Heidelberg, found a job working for Con-way Freight and had plans to enroll at Northern Kentucky University when he started feeling ill last June. Simple trips up and down the stairs wore him out, he got chills at night and even worse he wasn't eating and thought he felt a lump in his stomach.
Thinking he might have cancer, doctors proceeded to perform seven different biopsies on him, but could never quite make a diagnosis until one was finally made this past November that he had Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Even worse was that it had advanced to Stage 4, which meant the cancer had spread throughout his body.
"When they told me, I was depressed, especially because it took them so long to find out what it was," said Nutter. "Then I decided this was the hand I was dealt and that I was going to play my cards and was going to beat this."
Thanks to getting into a research study he was given some new drugs and treatment to fight the disease and found out this past Tuesday that he was cancer free. He still has to go every three months for a scan to make sure he is still in remission and those visits will become less and less frequent over time if it remains that way.
"For the longest time I thought it was just so unfair that I got it. I see people smoking and overweight and I worked out, was fit and in good shape and didn't do any of that and it just didn't make sense," said Nutter. "It's cool saying now that I beat it."
Despite the symptoms he had in June, the numerous biopsies and then beginning the treatment, Nutter stayed enrolled at NKU in both last fall's semester and the winter/spring semester that followed and just ended. The business management major had a 3.2 GPA in the fall and a 3.0 this past semester.
He also worked 35 hours a week at Con-way Freight, taking Thursday's off for his chemotherapy treatments.
"I'd get my chemo and go back to work the next day," he said.
He had a great support system to get him through, including not only his family, but members of the Lehmkuhl family and his roommates, Mason Lehmkuhl and Mac Vollett, who were also his football teammates at Ryle.
During his battle with the disease Nutter had dropped 35 pounds off his 5-10 frame from the 180 pounds at which he played football in college and he has since gained about 20 of it back.
"I just want people to know that you have to fighting and not giving up," said Nutter. "Everyone's dealt a hand. I know this that now that I battled through it and kept working and kept going to school that I don't have any excuses to miss a class or miss work when I'm healthy