University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs recruit Will Francis has begun chemotherapy after being diagnosed with leukemia.
Francis, a 2019 sixth-round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, was playing for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the United States Hockey League (USHL) before a torn meniscus ended his 2019-20 season. On Wednesday, the USHL made the decision to cancel the remainder of the season due to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to his CaringBridge page, Francis began feeling ill – sore throat, fatigue – a few weeks ago and was treated for tonsillitis. Over the past week, he went skiing and snowmobiling with family but was continuing to struggle with extreme fatigue and lost his appetite.
On March 13, Francis was tested for mono at a hospital in Grand Marais. A doctor there ran a blood test and discovered that Francis' white blood cell count was at 178,000 compared a normal of approximately 10,000.
That night doctors told him they thought he has leukemia. After a blood transfusion he was taken by ambulance to Mason Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, where he was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Francis started chemotherapy earlier this week and is ready to "Kick it's A$$!", according to his CaringBridge story.
"Thoughts and Prayers to the Francis Family," reads a tweet from the Rough Riders. "RiderTownUSA knows you will attack this like you do everything else. With your 'Will' Power and attitude there is no one or no thing that will ever defeat Will Francis. You got this Franny!"
Francis, a 6'5'' defenseman, helped Centennial High School finish fourth at the 2018 Class AA Minnesota state tournament.