Men’s Basketball Player who Battled Cancer Finds Love Unexpectedly

Photo Credit/ Molly Gorczyca and Ryan Smith

Natalie Irula


Ryan Smith, a junior on the basketball team, and Molly Gorczyca met after they had both been diagnosed with the same rare leukemia.

Smith was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, AML, in Aug. last year, according to the Pocono Record, and the two met later that year.

“Everybody sees cancer as this looming, terrible disease and nothing good comes from it,” Smith told People Magazine. “But if something like our relationship and both of us beating cancer comes from that, it’s kind of like a flower that’s growing between the concrete.”

Smith and Gorczyca’s love story recently went viral when they posted for the “how it started/ how it’s going” Twitter trend on Oct. 12.

Their post has since racked up over 1 million likes and keeps growing as their story spreads all over the world.

“A girl from my high school who goes to Ryan’s college retweeted an article about a ‘basketball warrior battling cancer,'” Gorczyca told People Magazine. 

“I started reading it and learned how Ryan was the same age as me, also a collegiate athlete and was battling the same exact cancer. When I saw that I was like, ‘I have to reach out.'”

The couple suffer from a type of cancer that affects blood and bone marrow, which usually affects adults at an average age of 68, according to the American Cancer Society’s website.

“It was right before I went in for my transplant,” Smith told People Magazine. “I decided to ask her if she wanted to start dating because a month away [from Molly in isolation, ahead of my transplant] was tough.”

“But when it was my transplant date, she drove down to Philadelphia and she waved a sign outside my room and said, ‘Happy Transplant Day.’ That was just really special.”

But, their cancer is not the only thing that drew them together. They are also both collegiate athletes and share many characteristics.

“We have an overwhelming amount of similarities. The way we met is not even some of the biggest things that we have in common,” Smith said. 

“We can relate to each other, but we are both athletes, we’re both driven, we’re both hard-working.”

Gorczyca, from Hackettstown, NJ, and Smith, from Lancaster, PA, have been dating for almost a year and look forward to a future together.

“Ryan and I have this connection that I’ve never had with anybody,” Gorczyca said. “It’s full of love and he’s somebody who, no matter what I’m going through, is always there in my corner supporting me, understanding me and rooting for me 24/7, no matter what.”

As of now, Smith continues to play with the Warriors and was named PSAC East Freshman Athlete of the Year, earned Second Team All-PSAC East honors and PSAC East Freshman of the Week honors five times, according to the ESU Warriors website.

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