Posted at: 05/20/2013 12:49 AM
Updated at: 05/20/2013 9:39 AM
By: Steve Flamisch
SCHENECTADY -- You may have seen Courtney Erickson crouching behind home plate at a high school baseball game, or running the floor at a high school basketball matchup.
What you probably didn't know is that the veteran umpire and referee has been working his most recent games while battling cancer in his liver and pancreas.
"I was told that I might have six months to live, and that was January 4th," Erickson told NewsChannel 13. "I was told I might be dead by June."
Erickson, 44, tried three rounds of chemotherapy before deciding the side effects were too unbearable. Now, he has settled on a different approach: alternative treatments, positive thinking, prayer healing, and a vegan diet.
Erickson purchased a Rife Machine, which purports to zap the cancerous cells with targeted radio waves. The controversial device is not accepted by the mainstream medical community, but Erickson -- the son of two scientists, brother of an M.I.T. Astrophysicist -- said he believes it is working.
"The cancer is leaving my body," he said. "I can feel it."
None of Erickson's alternative treatments is covered by insurance, so his friends organized a fundraiser Sunday at the Schenectady Municipal Golf Course to help him pay the bills. Erickson, who coordinates video replays at Siena College's men's basketball home games, welcomed many Saints to the banquet hall.
"I spoke to (Erickson) a couple of weeks ago and he uplifted me," former Siena men's basketball coach Mitch Buonaguro said. "I've been through a little adversity in the last couple of months, but I'm bouncing back and I wake-up every day with a good attitude and I think I learned that from Courtney."
Siena recently honored Erickson with its Tucker Award for service to the men's basketball program.
Erickson has enjoyed a diverse career. After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in broadcast journalism, he worked at CNN as a sports production assistant in the 1990s. Later, he worked in Siena's sports information office before accepting a teaching position in the Schenectady City School District.
The staunch Democrat then took a sharp turn into politics, parlaying his duties as a field organizer for President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign into a job as a legislative aide at the White House, he said. Erickson later aided two congressional representatives, and worked for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security's Office of Government Management.
Disenchanted with Washington, Erickson returned to the Capital Region and took a job in Schenectady County's purchasing department, he said. A member of Schenectady County's Democratic Committee, he recently received the Truman Award for service to the Democratic Party. He hopes to run for Schenectady City Council one day, and to pursue a new career as a motivational speaker.
All other aspirations aside, Erickson said his main objective is to beat cancer and to use his positive attitude to support others who are battling the disease.
"Don't believe what they tell you when they say you're going to die," he said, choking back tears. "You can fight this. Reach out to me. Have them contact me. I will give them the hope they need because this is what I want to do. I want to heal other people. That's all I want to do with the rest of my life. That's all I care about."
Erickson encouraged people who are living with cancer to email him at Erickson518@aol.com.