If you were to ask Cam Brown this time a year ago what he would be preparing for, his response would most likely include preparing to play collegiate football at Western Carolina University.
But on May 11., after having extensive issues with his left knee, Brown was taken to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla, where he and his family were told news that was not only shocking, but would change the course of his life.
“I remember we all were just sitting around, scared,” Brown said. “Then when the doctors came in and told us the news, we were in disbelief. The room was in a complete standstill.”
Brown has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that is very rare, only accounting for 2 percent of childhood cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Since his diagnosis, Brown and his family have been traveling to and from Shands Hospital for chemotherapy and radiation sessions.
“I remember the first thing I thought about right away was football,” Brown said. “I kept thinking to myself, 'Will I ever be able to play football again?' I knew at that very moment I was in for one of the toughest battles ever.”
Brown was a standout football player and wrestler at Florida High, leading the Florida High football team to a district championship his senior season. According to MaxPreps, Brown accumulated over 100 tackles his senior season and finished just shy of 200 tackles for his career with 193. He also finished as a state runner-up in wrestling for Class 1A.
“Cam is a fighter and he has always been one since he was young,” Michelle Brown, Brown’s mother, said. “He has retained a strong and positive outlook on everything so I can't be more proud of him.”
The cancer was first spotted in Brown’s left leg, and then by the time Brown and his family arrived to Shands Hospital, the cancer spread all the way to Brown’s lung. On Jun 28., Brown had his left leg amputated. Days following the operation, Brown was back in the weight room. Western Carolina has planned to honor Brown’s scholarship, as he aims to report to classes next year.
“[Cam’s] passion for football goes beyond description, so him already being back in the weight room is just a testament to who he is, and the work ethic he had prior to his condition,” Sam Brown, Brown’s father, said.
On Aug 12., a 5K will be held in honor of Brown at Florida High, sponsored by Live Blackheart from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.. A GoFundMe page has also been created to support Brown and his family, which has currently raised over $12,000.
“The support from the community has been nothing short of incredible. Words can't even describe how much the people that have helped me have meant to me,” Brown said. “It does get tough sometimes. But through it all, God has been my strength.”