AUSTIN, Texas — Last August, Mark Lara was experiencing some back pain. A visit to the doctor and an MRI revealed a bulging disc. It also showed a cancerous tumor in his back. Lara, a football player at Brandeis, began chemo to treat the tumor a few weeks later.

“It was pretty difficult, I just had to get through it,” Lara said. “[I] set my mind to ‘I’m going to get through every day with as much power as I have.’”

During those tough days Lara had the support of his family and his Bronco teammates.

“We kept pushing him daily to get past whatever he’s trying to get past,” Brandeis teammate Kristopher Garza said. “Honestly, every day he woke up with a smile on his face and ready to start the next day.”

Lara’s perseverance helped him beat cancer and in June he was cleared to play football again.

“Words can’t describe how excited I was, just ready to get back on the field,” Lara said.

His comeback started two weeks ago when Lara and Brandeis took the field in the season opener. Lara, a key part of the Broncos defense, has helped them get off to a 2-0 start this year.

“It was important to come back because I want to inspire my team,” Lara said. “Anything is possible, don’t let a circumstance define who you are as a person.”