Crawfordsville native Scott Smith loves sports, there’s no debating that fact. Whether that be officiating, watching his son Corbin play football at Franklin, or going to a professional sporting event, Smith has been connected with sports his entire life.
However that love was almost taken away from back in February of 2021. A simple date with his wife Michelle in Lafayette turned into a visit to the hospital after he was struggling to remember a wait time at the restaurant. A CT scan revealed a 5x7 centimeter-sized tumor in Smith’s brain. He was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma which is more commonly known as brain cancer. The plan was originally to remove the tumor on June 3, but a MRI revealed that Smith’s tumor had gotten worse just in week’s time.
“We had about a 45 minute wait and about after two minutes I asked Michelle why we weren’t going in to eat,” Smith said. “That happened again and that’s when Michelle took me to the ER and that’s when they found that I had the tumor. Originally it hit both of us like a ton of bricks. We had an MRI a week before the surgery and everything looked fine, fast forward to the day of the surgery and the tumor had turned aggressive. If I had waited until October or November to get it taken out, there’s no telling what would’ve happened to me.”
The surgeon was able to remove 90% of the tumor and Smith only spent about two and a half days in the hospital. Smith was told the more walking and more active he could stay, the better. As someone who was still an IHSAA official for football, basketball, and baseball, the first question that Smith asked his doctor was when could he get back to officiating football. A month later over the July 4th holiday, Smith developed an infection to where part of his skull was removed. After finishing round of chemo and radiation therapy, a prosthetic piece was put back into Smith’s skull in October.
“He thought it’d be a good idea to try and officiate football with a piece of his skull missing,” Smith’s wife Michelle said with a chuckle. “He’s always negotiating with the doctors on when he can get back out to officiate.”
If someone were to walk up to Smith on the street and not know his story, you’d see a normal man probably at some sporting event who is living his life to the fullest. For both Scott and Michelle, they are both choosing to not let Scott’s diagnosis define him or hinder him from doing the things that he loves to do.
“We choose to live each day the best we can,” Michelle added. “We know that one day it will change on a dime, but we’ve found plenty of support groups that have helped us. We’ve met some people who have lived with this for 10-15 years. A lot of people have reached out to Scott. It’s amazing how many people just in Crawfordsville are living with this so our goal is to try and help each person the best that we can.”
When he was first diagnosed, his doctor gave Smith 5-10 years to live. That notion was quickly dismissed and Smith responded with ‘I’m going to live 20’. That positivity is something that Smith continues to live by. At his work he gathered some of the women who have survived breast cancer and asked them for advice.
Smith’s love of sports combined with his faith is something that has kept him going. This past winter Smith officiated 35 basketball games and followed that up with umpiring 29 baseball games this past spring.
“Sports has been part of my life ever since I was four years old,” Smith said. “When I first started to officiate again, it was like re-teaching my brain. I’ve coached both of my sons and this allows me to enjoy my life and love what I do. I want to coach my grand-kids too. I also give God a lot of credit for where I am right now. There’s a lot of people who have had what I had then two weeks later passed away. I just want people to look at me and say ‘he’s a fighter.’”
To continue to combat his glioblastoma, Smith also wheres what is called a optune device which shoots radio waves through his head to prevent the tumor from coming back.
“Scott loves to talk with people about it,” Michelle said of his glioblastoma. “For as someone who is as chatty as he is, it’s a great conversation piece. He’ll get asked about it when we’re out and he’ll gladly let them know. He doesn’t shy away from it at all.”
This past month, Smith ran a 5K to honor his late uncle who was cross country coach. It was just another accomplishment that Smith can check off.
Also the outpouring of support that Smith and family received and still receive to this day is something that he and Michelle don’t take for granted. Everyone from AD’s, to friends, to people in his neighborhood made sure they were there to show their support. This past fall and winter when given the chance, Smith would cover games for us at the Journal Review and loved every second of it.
“The people in this community and even Montgomery County have been terrific for me and my family,” Smith said. “A meal train was put together for us so we didn’t have to worry about cooking. It was way more than we could ever eat. We got so many cards from so many different people that wished us well. Even when I go out people come up and ask me how I’m doing. When I got to cover games, that was huge for me. I saw it as a mental challenge for me and I enjoyed it.”
What keeps Smith going is his love for Michelle and their two sons Corbin and Connor. There’s a lot of life left to live for Smith and despite being faced with an uphill obstacle, he’s become and inspiration to many and will continue to be a beacon of positivity for many others.
“When this all happened, it was very emotional for us,” Michelle said. “I wrote a letter to his neuro-surgeon and told him how important he was to our life and to our family. Scott goes at everything he does with a sense of humor. He autographed the mask he wore during radiation and gave it to his radiation team, and it’s still hanging on their wall.”
“I don’t think the word cancer has ever set in with me,” Scott added. “And hopefully it never does. I enjoy giving back and that’s why I officiate and love it.”
As of this month there is no current evidence of the tumor in Scott’s brain.
Smith is a pure joy to be around and the Crawfordsville community is blessed to have a person like Scott and his family be a part of it.
God bless you Scott.
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