UK Football player tackles skin cancer and now spreading awareness

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT)- May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

Every year there are more than five million cases of skin cancer diagnosed.

Last July at the age of just 20-years-old University of Kentucky football player Joshua Paschal found out he had melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

Paschal attributes football with helping him find the cancer and he says the support of his family and team helped him along his journey.

Paschal has just a few treatments left and is now turning his attention to using his story to advocate for awareness about a disease he was unfamiliar with until he heard the words you have cancer.

It was a simple tackle in a game against Middle Tennessee State last November, but to the then sophomore defensive lineman it was monumental.

"It was great just being on that field and hearing the crowd, being with my teammates and just knowing that first of all I wasn't on the scooter anymore, I could walk, I could run," said Joshua Paschal.

Just four months earlier Paschal wasn't sure he would even be back on the football field after finding this spot on the bottom of his right foot.

"It was just a small spot, it started out probably the size of a small mole and I really thought it was a blood blister but I knew I didn't get a mole on the bottom of my foot," said Paschal.

Paschal underwent three surgeries, the melanoma was deeper and more aggressive than first thought.

He underwent immunotherapy to fight the cancer and only has a few more treatments to go.

Last season he says he felt the love and support of the Big Blue Nation behind him and what it did for his fellow teammates.

"Just to see like my team get motivated by what I was going through and just to know my brothers had my back and that's just something I can truly say that my brothers truly did have my back and they really made sure I was okay through everything," said Paschal.

Now he's got their back with his sights set on this fall.

As focused as Joshua Paschal is on football he is also focused on using his story be a game changer in a different way.

"Just to be able to hopefully save somebody's life just to get them to have those skin checks to be aware of their bodies and just for God to use me to help other people. I feel like that's what I've been called to do," said Paschal.

Paschal tells me through his cancer journey he learned to lean on his faith more than he ever had.

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