The Tumor that Gave Him No Choice

Video posted April 25, 2017 in Sports by Callan Clasby


When athletes go to college and play for a sports team, the school, trainers and coaches do everything they can to keep them healthy and fit. So who would expect to find a health issue that can’t be fixed?

Daniel Featherston, a senior at Penn State studying political science, is no stranger to health challenges.  He's had the shingles, blood poisoning and has even been hit by a car. Despite month-long hospital stays and sports-related injuries in the past, none have ever forced him to quit the sport he loves.  Until now.

“All these injuries, whether in sports or outside of sports, they’ve never stopped me from playing completely," Featherston said.  "I was able to kind of fight through the pain.”

He grew up watching his two older brothers play rugby in high school, and grew to love the sport, following in their footsteps. Having played rugby for nearly seven years as a second-row player and flanker he sustained several head injuries.  

RGFubnkgRmVhdGhlcnN0b24sIHRvcCBjZW50ZXIsIHNheXMgcGxheWluZyBydWdieSBpcyBsaWtlIGZpZ2h0aW5nIGZvciBzb21ldGhpbmcgd2l0aCB5b3VyIGJlc3QgZnJpZW5kcy4gIFRoZXkgd29yayB0b2dldGhlciB0byBpbiBvcmRlciB0byBiZSBwcmVwYXJlZCBhbmQgY29uZmlkZW50IGR1cmluZyB0aGUgdGVhbSYjMDM5O3MgZ2FtZXMuICBJbiB0aGlzIHBob3RvIGlzIEZlYXRoZXJzdG9uZSB3aXRoIGhpcyB0ZWFtbWF0ZXMgYWZ0ZXIgcGxheWluZyBhIGdhbWUgaW4gdGhlIHJhaW4uICBQaG90byBieSBEYW5ueSBGZWF0aGVyc3RvbiBvbiBjZWxsIHBob25lKQo=Danny Featherston, top center, says playing rugby is like fighting for something with your best friends.  They work together to in order to be prepared and confident during the team's games.  In this photo is Featherstone with his teammates after playing a game in the rain.  Photo courtesy of Danny Featherston

In a recent visit to Mount Nittany Hospital for a tooth infection, Featherston's doctor found a possible cancerous mass in his MRI and head scans.  After multiple consults with doctors from several different hospitals, each came to the conclusion that with the risk of having the tumor rupture during any contact of the already aggressive game, it was time for him to hang up his cleats. 

Featherston's health condition forced him to give up his starting position during the middle of his last season on the Penn State Rugby team.  He was upset.  Being told to stop playing is "horrible," he said.

“You go on to the field with some of your best friends.  And a game you’ve been preparing for weeks.  And you give it all, it’s a fight on the field and you fight with your best friends and it just really- you love it," Featherston said. "I mean, it’s something you can’t really replace in a lot of different situations,” as he reflected on his years playing the sport.

Although no longer able to play the contact sport, Featherston still participates in team events and attends practice to support his teammates.  Having played the sport for seven years and starting on the team the last two years, Featherston helps younger players who play his old position by giving them advice on how to strategize against opposing teams and how to make their skills more effective on the field.  Featherston helps motivate and push his teammates to push themselves to preform better and achieve their goals in practice and in their games.

Video: The Boy with Nine Lives


Growing up, Featherston has been facing death since the day he was born.  His friends and family call him “the kid with nine lives.”  Having been given this unusual reputation, stands true today after finding out he has a brain tumor.

In 1995, Featherston had been kidnapped the day he was born by a nurse who helped with his mother’s delivery.  In 1997, he had shingles at the age of 2.  Two years later, at the age of 4 he stepped on a sea urchin that poisoned his blood, leaving him in a hospital for about three weeks.  Those are just some of many health scares and incidences that he has faced in his life. But even having been hit by a car at the age of 12, and having several sports related injuries inluding a major concusion leaving him and his memory on a ten second loop for three days when he was sixteen never stopped him from doing the things he loved.

Featherston was ten when his older brothers started playing rugby.  Being the youngest of three boys, he says he wanted to follow in their footsteps.  Despite his unusual past experiences and the numerous head and body injuries while playing the sport, Featherston refused to give in to the pain in order to continue to play a sport he grew up to love.

Now that his rugby career is on hold, Featherston plans satisfy his need for competition by competing in a traitholon this summer and while working in sales next year.  "Instead of competing on the field, your competing in business and dealing with much higher stakes- meaning a lot of money, peoples jobs. Salesmen dictate how much they bring home everyday based off of their work ethic and sales skills. Thats the ultimate competition in my opinion," Featherston said