July 16, 2019 / 4:42 PM / a month ago

Steelers RB Conner: Doctors gave me 'about a week' to live in '15

FILE PHOTO: Jan 25, 2019; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) during AFC practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner revealed he was told he was close to death when diagnosed with cancer as a student at Pitt in 2015.

Speaking recently on the “Ya Neva Know: you know what I mean?” podcast hosted by former Duke pitcher Mike Seander - better known as hip-hop artist Mike Stud - Conner said he sought medical attention when he was having trouble sleeping as he recovered from a torn MCL in his junior season.

“I’m rehabbing for that, trying to make a comeback before the season ends,” Conner, 24, said. “And then I’m rehabbing and [stuff and I get] night sweats, bro. I’m getting like 15 minutes of sleep at night, going through it. Sleep, who [doesn’t] love sleep? That’s the worst in the world ... And so I get some tests done, and I got tumors surrounding my heart ... I got tumors growing all around it, and it’s pressing.”

Doctors diagnosed Conner with stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma and found tumors in his neck and chest.

“The doctor told me I had a week left,” Conner said. “He said, ‘You got about a week. If you [don’t] get this treated, you about a week at the rate it’s growing.’”

After sending cancer into remission and rehabbing his knee, Conner returned to the Panthers in 2016, gaining 1,394 all-purpose yards and scoring 20 touchdowns.

The Steelers selected Conner in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. After carrying the ball just 32 times as a rookie, he enjoyed a breakout season in 2018, taking over for holdout Le’Veon Bell.

In 2018, Conner had 973 rushing yards and added 497 receiving yards and 13 scores. He was selected to the Pro Bowl.

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