The rare cancer attacks the lymphatic system, a network of tiny filters that drain fluid and waste from the body and helps produce white blood cells that protect the body against various infections.

NAVARRE — Nic Hubbard finally beat his primary refractory Hodgkin’s disease, losing nearly 60 pounds during his 16-month treatment.

“Obviously, I have no muscle mass anymore,” said the 163-pound Hubbard. The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputy weighed 220 pounds when he first learned he had Hodgkin lymphoma in May 2018.

The rare cancer attacks the lymphatic system, a network of tiny filters that drain fluid and waste from the body and helps produce white blood cells that protect the body against various infections.

Hubbard’s Hodgkin’s disease came with a softball-sized tumor in the middle of his chest.

After seven months of chemotherapy, scans showed him returning to health. But two days after he finished his last chemo treatment on Oct. 26, tests showed the cancer grew back. His type of Hodgkin's lymphoma was resistant to chemotherapy.

However, instead of becoming discouraged, Hubbard was determined to lift his spirits and overcome the disease.

“Last year really just forced me to be a lot more positive about everything about life,” said the 27-year-old man, who has a 19-month-old son, Logan, with his wife, Lauren. “It made me appreciate all the people who cared for me. It made me realize that I had to fight for my son, Logan, my wife, my brothers and sisters and all my family. I was lying there one day and I thought, ‘I have to start eating. I have to start drinking. People are relying on me to get better.’”

Lauren Hubbard said she noticed the turnaround in his attitude.

“He was kind of lost. Cancer kind of took him,” she said. “He was going through the motions. It’s refreshing to see him find himself again. We feel like a family again. I’m just thankful for that.”

Nic said he and Lauren appreciate all the encouragement during hard times and the help they’ve received from fundraisers to pay for medical bills.

“This community has been so supportive,” Hubbard said. “Lauren and I never expected the amount of support we’ve received from people who we never met.”

They left Navarre in December so Hubbard could get a bone marrow transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore since medical facilities in this region lack the ability to do the medical procedure. His sister, Tiffiny Black, was his donor and his oncologist who performed the surgery was Dr. Doug Gladstone.

Although the transplant failed his immune system inexplicably recovered.

One of his biggest backers has been Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson. He has kept Hubbard on the payroll and organized a group of deputies to help move them move out of their Navarre home and into a storage unit until they return Oct. 1. When they come back, they plan to move into a new home in Pace, Hubbard said.

Johnson and his deputies “have done way more than enough,” Hubbard said.

Johnson said while many organizations let the federal Family Medical Leave Act run out and then fire that sick employee, he treats his 400 employees like “one big family.” Hubbard has a job waiting for him with the Sheriff's office.

“Every time I spoke to him on the phone or a fundraiser he was never down,” Johnson said. “He was never ‘poor pitiful me.’ He had an upbeat and positive attitude. He told me he missed being in uniform and being in a patrol car.”

Hubbard said it felt like a “kick in the gut” when he turned in the patrol car. He always wanted to serve in the military and on the police force. He served in the U.S. Army for nearly five years. When he left the Army, Hubbard then joined the Sheriff’s Office July 12, 2017.

When he moves back to Santa Rosa County, Hubbard said he expects to do desk duty for up to nine months, while he gets back into shape.

“We heard the word ‘cured,’” Hubbard said. “We don’t know that. Cancer seems to stick with you. I beat cancer, hopefully, for the rest of my life.”