Son, husband, teacher, and coach are all familiar titles for Nick Nosbisch.
Nick, or more affectionately know as “Coach Noz”, is a high school social studies teacher at Holly Springs High School. He is also a successful high school wrestling coach, as he has been the head coach for three of the four consecutive conference championship titles won by the Golden Hawks. Nick graduated from East Carolina University and married his college sweetheart, Melissa. The couple lives with their rescue dog close to his parents, who are residents of Holly Springs. While Nick has excelled in these familiar roles, a turn of events during the winter of 2016 has given Nick another title: cancer fighter.
December 1st, 2016 Nick was diagnosed with Stage IV intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, which is an aggressive cancer of the biliary system. Cholangiocarcinoma can be classified into three different types. The form Nick was diagnosed with, intrahepatic, develops in the small bile ducts within the liver. According to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation website, only 10 percent of bile duct cancers are classified as this particular kind. Unfortunately, cancer of the biliary system is known to have high recurrence rate.
Only 12 days after being diagnosed, Nick arrived at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill for surgery. The procedure took seven hours and doctors worked hard to remove tumors from the liver and lymph nodes. After spending the night in the ICU, the doctors were able to move Nick into the surgical oncology wing where he spent a few weeks recovering from surgery and receiving treatment. His mom, Denise Nosbisch, reports that only a few days after surgery he was receiving wrestling match updates from his team.
Nick was discharged from the hospital just in time for Christmas and was able to be home with Melissa and his parents. For now, he is playing a waiting game; something the National Cancer Institute deems the “Diagnosis to Treatment Time”. This wait-and-see period lasts for 44 days. On the website Denise created about her son’s battle, she reflects that while these 44 days seem like a lifetime, it has given her a new understanding that this fight is a marathon and not a sprint.
This agonizing waiting period had a bright spot when the Nosbisch family received some hopeful news. Nick was accepted as a patient by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, one of the best cancer treatment centers in the country. The Mayo Clinic is known for its groundbreaking work with immunology and immunotherapy cancer treatments. Early studies have exhibited impressive results in fighting cholangiocarcinoma and also in preventing a recurrence of the cancer. The doctors at the Mayo Clinic plan to review Nick’s prognosis and identify a treatment plan. On February 1st, Nick and Melissa had their first of many consultations with one of these doctors.
Being a coach, Nick knows all about the importance of team. Along with the support of his wife, immediate family and friends, community members from Holly Spring High School and surrounding areas have been quick to come to his side. Students and wrestlers from both past and present have sent gifts, words of encouragement, and have been able to occasionally visit Coach Noz. Community members have brought by meals, helped take down Christmas lights, and the students organized
a prayer circle on the day of his surgery.
Now that Nick has been accepted as a patient at the Mayo Clinic, he faces a few new challenges. Traveling back and forth to Minnesota is expensive, not to mention the possible treatment costs that are not covered by insurance. Once again, the community has gone above and beyond the call to help. Both Apex Friendship and Cape Fear High School athletic departments were able to quickly assist the Nosbisch’s with purchasing their first plane tickets to Minnesota at the beginning of February. Along with creating a website for her son, Denise Nosbisch has also made it easier for community members, friends, and family to financially support Nick by creating a fundraiser through the YouCaring platform. The page has already raised close to $45,000 with the goal amount being $50,000. Checks made out to Nick Nosbisch: One goal can also be deposited at any local Wells Fargo bank. Any support, monetary or otherwise, is greatly appreciated by the entire Nosbisch family.
There’s no doubt Nick has taught his wrestlers and his students about the importance of setting goals. Goal setting is a necessary step to achieving success of all levels. Now, Nick, his family, and his community are united towards one goal: beating cancer. Little by little through positive attitudes, words of encouragement, prayer, and the best treatment available Nick is making progress to his goal and, eventually, one win.