Florida High football player determined to beat cancer
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Sam Brown and his wife, Michelle, could hardly believe what a doctor was telling them about their son, following a MRI on his swollen left leg.
Their vision of 6-foot-2, 210-pound Cam Brown got blurred when he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Suddenly the scholarship that he’d received just a few months earlier to play football as a linebacker at Western Carolina University didn’t matter.
Their 18-year-old son was about to begin a fight for his life against a disease that claims thousands of lives every year.
Just six months earlier, Cam had his best season playing for Florida High’s football team. He’d recorded more than 150 tackles with 10 sacks.
At least 13 schools had recruited him for football. Cam, who also wrestled for the Seminoles, had hopes of being on the Catamount’s track and field team.
Understandably he was shaken by the turn his life would take.
“It was like somebody turned the lights out on the world,” Sam Brown said,” responding to the diagnosis. “We were in a daze for the longest; just waiting to wake up. It was absolutely devastating. It was the worst thing anybody could have ever said.”
Cam is currently undergoing chemotherapy, a treatment that will continue for three months. Doctors are hoping that swelling in his leg would subside enough for them to remove a tumor.
The cancer has spread to his lungs and formed another tumor. If the first phase of treatment is successful he will have another three months of chemo before the second tumor is removed.
“I have no doubt in my mind that I will get past this,” Cam said. “It’s real hard sometimes. It’s just that the chemo beats you up. But mentally, I’m good. I know I will be fine.
“I know that everything happens for a reason. I’ll be just fine. I know that God’s got my back and I have people praying for me left and right.”
His high school coach Jarrod Hickman has no doubt that he will recover. He’s seen Brown’s resilience all season, watching him battle through a shoulder injury that couldn’t keep him off the field.
“He has a tremendous outlook on everything,” Hickman said. “He always has; he really approaches everything with a positive attitude.
“He is just a tough kid. He has a tough mental approach to everything.”
The episode with cancer began for Cam with what he thought was a bruised bone injury from this past football season. However, the pain became unbearable and his parents decided to have doctors take a deeper look.
A MRI revealed the cancer and he was immediately sent to Shands Hospital in Gainesville in mid-May. Through the third of 29 scheduled chemo treatments, Cam has lost 26 pounds.
He managed to make it to his graduation this past Friday, a day after a high fever sent him to the emergency room.
On the same day, Catamount coach Mark Speir came to Tallahassee to visit Cam, assuring him that his scholarship won’t be rescinded. It lifted his spirit.
“It really meant a lot to me,” he said. “I’m glad he came down.”
Brown’s support base has also launched a Gofundme online account to help his parents defray the coast of his treatment. A day hasn’t passed since his diagnosis that he hasn’t had several visitors.
“It has been absolutely amazing with the amount of support coming,” said Sam Brown. “First of all; Florida High. From the beginning it was all of his coaches and all of the parents of the teams that he is on.”
Hickman called Cam’s illness a twist of fate that is difficult to understand.
“Why would something like this happen to a kid like this that does everything right.” He said. “He has worked so hard to put himself in a position to go play college football. Now everything is put on hold. It hurts. It hurts very badly.”