A stoic young man, Andre Hal rarely displayed a lot of emotion even during the darkest days of his inspirational battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
That aspect of his personality was evident even in the majority of private moments with his family.
As Hal’s mother watched him handle all the uncertainty with a stiff upper lip and a strong determination to play football again, she came to an encouraging realization about her youngest child.
“He’s an inspiration,” Lisa West Snearl said from her home in Port Allen, La. “I kept looking at my son, and I was like, ‘He’s not showing any emotion.’ Then I realized: He gets it from me. He acts just like me. I’m the same way. When you’re a single parent, you don’t have time to be sick. You can’t take a day off. You keep moving.
“You just say OK to whatever comes. The report about your health, that doesn’t stop you. The mentality my kids have seen in me is I’m self-employed. I raised him and his sisters single-handedly. I couldn’t afford to get sick. They saw that strength that God placed in me about how I run my life.”
Hal, a veteran Texans safety, was diagnosed in the spring with nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin's lymphoma in his lymph nodes.
Instead of dwelling on the grim nature of his situation, he leaned heavily on his faith and his family.
Hal, 26, was in remission by fall. He was activated from the reserve non-football illness list and returned to the starting lineup against Jacksonville on Oct. 21.
This is a particularly special Thanksgiving week for Hal, whose father, Andre Hal Sr., died the week of the Jacksonville game.
“I’m super thankful,” Hal said. “It’s a blessing just to be here and be playing football again. That’s what I love to do, and I’m happy to be back.
“It’s been a long journey. I learned a lot about myself, a lot about life in general.”
When he was first diagnosed, Hal briefly allowed himself to feel sadness and experienced those ‘Why me?’ moments.
“I definitely had that at the beginning,” said Hal, who eschewed chemotherapy and used some non-traditional treatments because he wanted to maintain his strength to be able to have a shot at playing. “I had to realize that stuff happens to everybody, but you have to grind through it.”
It’s a determination that his mother instilled in him. She always taught Hal and his two older sisters to maintain their resolve no matter what happens
“Andre doesn’t like pity,” his mother said. “He doesn’t want a pity party with anybody. I’m proud of all of my kids. I’m careful not to put him on a pedestal.
“If you want to cry, cry. If you don’t, don’t. I want him to show emotions. He has his moments. I’ve taught them you don’t have to cry in front of the world. Cry in your own private place.”
It was the week of the Jacksonville game when Hal was informed his father had suffered a heart attack. Hal flew to visit him at the hospital in Louisiana before returning to Houston days later. Andre Hal Sr.’s health declined, though, and he passed away the Tuesday before the Texans’ road game.
“Boom — the news of his dad right after Andre got back out there at practice,” his mother said. “That was a lot. I was looking at him going through all this stuff, and he didn’t want to miss practice. He wanted to be in Houston.
“He never missed a day. If his teammates hadn’t found out about his father from others, they never would have known, because Andre wouldn’t have told them. That’s just how he is.”
Initially diagnosed after experiencing blurry vision at practice, Hal has had a strong support system from his family, teammates and coaches.
“My family — they motivate me, and I motivate them,” Hal said. “My mom is great. They come to Houston a lot. I needed that. I’m more of a loner guy anyway. Having my family around made me appreciate them even more.”
After injuring his shoulder against the Jaguars, Hal missed the next two games before returning Sunday at FedEx Field. He contributed to the Texans’ seventh win in a row, a 23-21 victory, with a tackle and a key pass deflection.
“I’m real thankful for everything, for this seven-game winning streak,” Hal said. “It’s a surreal time with everything that’s happened. It’s the grit. We’ve got a lot of grit. We’ve been grinding.”
Despite everything he’s gone through, Hal hasn’t relented. And he has raised his teammates’ spirits through the year.
“I’m extremely proud of him,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “Any time a guy can go through what he’s gone through and come out on the other side of it, you’re always rooting for him.”
This has been the most trying year of Hal’s life. And his mother couldn’t be prouder of how he’s handled the most difficult circumstances imaginable.
“It’s a lot,” she said. “2018 has been a really challenging year, but it’s been a year of growth for my whole family. With everything that’s happened, it was a surprise at the beginning with the diagnosis.
“We are so faith-based. I had faith, and I lived by God, and I gave it to them. We all needed it. When he was diagnosed, we prayed together. We were there. He never went to a doctor’s visit alone. At the end of the day, he surpassed it all.”
Hal said he prayed hard for these days, to finally be able to enjoy the simple things of being healthy again and playing the sport he loves.
“I couldn’t make it without God and digging down deep inside me,” Hal said. “God got me through this. It’s a blessing. I’m just thankful.”
Source : https://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/texans/article/Andre-Hal-s-long-journey-through-a-13409985.php1105