Chase Heaton, 19, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma a year and a half ago. The cancer was a battle that took its toll on his body. Chase underwent a number of treatments, including chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Even so, he balanced his time between school, treatments and his passion for fishing.
Chase’s will was strong, and he wasn’t about to let the lymphoma stop him from achieving his ambitions. The teen had previously qualified to represent his home state of Washington in the B.A.S.S. Nation Junior Bassmaster Western Divisional. On April 12, Chase bested all competitors in his 15-18 age group to win the competition.
“I’ve got to find the right words for it,” Chase said after he won. “It’s a dream come true. It’s a way to help repay the people who have believed in me for so long. There’s nothing more I can ask for.”
It was a piece of success that renewed hope for both the teen and his family.
“My throat was a little sore from the radiation, but I had all the right medications and overall I felt good.” he told The Missoulian. “Radiation was a piece of cake after all the other treatments I’d had. Going fishing was the best medicine I could have at that point.”
After winning the regional tournament, Chase will go on to represent the West Region in the 2013 Bassmaster Junior World Championship, one of the most prestigious fishing competitions for young anglers. An extraordinary achievement not only because Chase was battling cancer, but also because he was self-taught.
“He saved his money and bought his first little bass boat when he was 15,” said a family member.
Chase will soon being undergoing another set of chemotherapy treatments and preparing for the world championships by fishing in local tournaments.
His total weight for the one-day competition was a neat 15 pounds. His gear included a one-foot leader with a Gamakatsu No. 1 G-lock Hook, a Lamiglas Certified Pro 663 rod, a Shimano Symmetry 2500 reel, and a 10-pound test Seaguar InvizX line. He also used a Abu Garcia Veritas rod with a Abu Garcia Revo SX reel.
Image courtesy Bassmaster