When it was finally over, when the disease had been neutralized and Danny Jacobs took his life back, a sense of urgency and ambition overwhelmed him. He wanted it all and he wanted it right now. Cancer made Jacobs stronger.
What he wanted first was to fulfill his potential as a boxer. Jacobs had been such a star as an amateur that he was nicknamed "The Golden Child." Jacobs had been told many things in his life and first among them was that one day he would be a great fighter. But in 2011, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a life-threatening form of bone cancer.
People started telling him other things. He kept hearing, "You will never fight again," or "You will never walk again." But Jacobs, 28, from Brooklyn, began to recover and slowly mounted a boxing comeback. He returned to the ring in October of 2012, and today he is the WBA middleweight champion. He also has a new nickname, "Miracle Man."
Still, Jacobs wanted more. The ambition gnawed at him like a pesky jab. What else could he do? Jacobs realized sharing his story and encouraging cancer patients would be just as important as anything he did inside the boxing ring. He describes it as a debt he owed the cancer community.
"Once I got better physically," he said, "I realized I had to do something to give back. So I started my foundation."
It's one thing for a child to be visited in the hospital by a professional athlete. It's quite another for that athlete to look into that kids eyes and say, "I've been where you've been. I know what you are going through. There is hope."
That's what Danny Jacobs does.
"When I meet with kids, most of all, I see a lot of hope," he said. "I see a lot of kids who are happy for that particular moment. They are going through so much, so if I can take their mind off whatever they are going through, that means a lot to me."
On Saturday, Jacobs defends his title against Sergio Mora on a Premier Boxing Champions card at the Barclays Center. The card also features two-time world champion Paulie Malignaggi, also from Brooklyn, against undefeated Danny Garcia in a welterweight bout. Both fights will be televised by ESPN.
Mora (28-3-2) is the most accomplished opponent Jacobs (29-1) has faced as a professional. In 2008, Mora captured the WBC super welterweight title by upsetting Vernon Forrest. He also fought to a draw with "Sugar" Shane Mosley and won the first season of NBC's boxing reality show, "The Contender."
"I categorize him as tricky and crafty," Jacobs said of Mora. "He will do his best to make me miss and tire me out, to try and take the fight to the later rounds. On paper he's probably the most experienced guy that I fought and I know he will be up for this. Any time a fighter is in a championship fight, he will bring his best. I'll also be bringing my best."
In June, Jacobs took time off from training to visit the New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital and Gilda's Club, a cancer support camp for children near Philadelphia. He tries to help kids who are diagnosed with cancer as well as those who have had immediate family members battling the disease.
"I would do this with or without boxing," said Jacobs. "I just use my platform as a boxer to reach the masses. It's always been important for me to do things in the community, it's part of my upbringing. It just trickled down to me, to care for and love my family and my community."
While the primary focus of his Get In The Ring Foundation is on those impacted by cancer, Jacobs also talks about childhood obesity and bullying.
"Being bullied is the reason I got into boxing," said Jacobs. "When I was 14, I was being bullied by a kid in junior high school. I wanted to do this the right way. So we went to a boxing gym. We boxed, I beat him up in the ring. He never bullied me again and I found my passion in the sport of boxing."