Original article by Kevin Sherrington of The DMN.
God is good. I have been blessed to chase my dreams, meet new and interesting people, and see places I never dreamed all because of my love of music.
But how well do you know the leader of our tribe? Did you know that I battle cancer on a daily basis? This battle has led me to view life through the lens that tomorrow is not promised. Every day is a gift and what will I do with the opportunities I’m given.
This testimony is for the people who say I’m too happy, who question my drive, who say I have no chill, or who are thrown off by my never give up attitude. You only get one shot. And sometimes there are some road blocks, pitfalls and in my case, cancer along the way.
Fuck You Haters and Fuck Cancer.
My battle began at the age of 15. I was highly recruited and I had it all ripped away because of my illness. I ended going to a small school in Missouri for two years because they offered me a scholarship (I did not mention I had cancer.).
A transfer to SMU, two degrees, two kids and theee cities latert I still live with the cancer that plagued my childhood. You would never know it. I don’t talk about it, but something moved me to write this words.
As a teenager, there were mean kids who even said I made up having cancer to be popular. I’ll never understand that one. People are cruel. Someone reading this may be going through a hard time. The outside world may not see your pain and the majority of the time, they won’t care even if they know.
I want you to know you have an ally and that not everyone in this world is cruel. I care.
For those facing any struggle, I feel you need to receive this with an open mind. Please know you are not alone. You have an ally. You can be positive even in dire situations. You have an ally. If you feel no one is listening, you have allies within your EDM DFW
Before you read any further, please know God is good. He is the most PERFECT thing ever!
Im far from perfect. Like Scarface (Brad Jordan) said,”I’m a sinner…facing a winner. With no socks and no shoes.”
I hope Kevin Sherrington’s
story moves you in some way. I never thought I would make the front page of The Dallas Morning News. Seriously I thought it was going to be in the sports section and I walked to go buy and paper and OMG there I am. This is real life. This is my life. God is good
Article by Kevin Sherrington of The DMN
TACKLING CANCER :Family, teammates help athlete battle toughest opponent
Published: November 14, 1997
GARLAND – Brandon Webb thought it was just a fever blister, and then sores the size of quarters raised on his arms and legs. Carlton Cooper couldn’t understand it. He’d look at his 15-year-old son and see himself, one of the best athletes ever to play basketball for the University of Texas.
Brandon inherited some of that ability, was good enough to play tight end for Garland High School’s football team last season as a sophomore. He even looks like his father, said his mother, Rochelle Webb.
So how could Brandon be so sick? How could he have cancer?
How could he still play football?
The last question is the only one anyone can answer. Brandon is given a good chance at beating his cancer, and he will be playing Friday night against North Mesquite at SMU’s Ownby Stadium because of the only thing he feared more than cancer.
He was afraid he’d never play football again.
“I’ve always wanted to play,” he said, softly, folding his large hands into each other. “I love football. ” He plays like it. His coach, Joe Martin, tailors Brandon’s workouts to suit his case. He doesn’t run wind sprints, and he stayed inside and rode a stationary bicycle when it was hot. But he still has to perform, and Mr. Martin said Brandon has had “an exceptional season” as a 6-foot-4, 260-pound starting tight end in the Owls’ Wing-T offense.
His biggest obstacle in football always has been his nature, anyway, not his disease. An honors student, his nickname is “Big Friendly. ” Teammates were used to his smile, so it startled Tre Mathis when Brandon began to cry last summer as he told him about cancer.
He told Tre, who lines up next to him on the offensive line, that he didn’t know if he’d be able to play anymore. The doctors didn’t think he could. They see only 50 national cases a year of his lymphoma cancer, and almost all the patients are older than 50.
And the ones who aren’t, they don’t play any football.
Tre listened to his friend’s lament, then wrapped him in his big arms. “Deep in my heart, I was kinda scared,” Tre said. “But I tried to keep him up. I had to be a true friend.
” The Garland Owls have built their team on this trust. Their coach gave them the foundation. Mr. Martin told them about a man who walks a tightrope over a set of raging falls. The man turns to the crowd after he reaches safety and tells them he’s going to push a wheelbarrow across.
“Do you think I can do it? ” he asks the crowd.
“Then who will get in the wheelbarrow? “
The question came up in one of Garland’s games this season, against Naaman Forest. Brandon hurt a hand, thought he might even have broken it. The Owls’ quarterback, Matt Nelson, worried about his tight end.
“Can you go? ” Matt asked him.
Brandon nodded. “I’m in the wheelbarrow,” he said.
Matt smiled at the memory. “The whole idea is trusting your teammates,” he said. “That’s what Brandon was saying. That’s all he could say. ” No one would have thought it could have meant this, though. Not a teammate with cancer.
Nearly three months passed after the sore showed up on her son’s lip, and Rochelle Webb had no answers for what was wrong with her only child. The dermatologist still didn’t know the problem after the first two biopsies. He told her in late March he’d do one more, just to rule out a sinister possibility.
“Probably come back negative,” he assured her.
But it didn’t. He had a rare form of cancer with a cure rate of about 75 percent, doctors told them. But they really didn’t know what to make of it. The only cancer on either side of Brandon’s family was his mother’s father, who had prostate cancer, and he has since recovered.
Harvard researchers reviewed Brandon’s case. They told Brandon he was “writing his own book. ” They don’t know how it will come out. He takes a low dosage of chemotherapy every Wednesday and steroids every other day. The doctors told him it could mean the same treatment for 10, 15, maybe 25 years.
“He’s in no immediate danger,” Ms. Webb said when asked about her son’s outlook. “But there’s always a possibility . . . ” The possibilities overwhelmed Carlton Cooper when Ms. Webb, his former Paris High School sweetheart, called with the news.
Mr. Cooper, who played four varsity seasons at Texas from 1981-85, coaches the Arlington Texans in the Southwest Professional Basketball League. He lives in Plano with his wife, Niesje, and new baby. He knew Brandon and his mother were seeing doctors about the lesions, but he was not prepared for what she told him.
“I hung up the phone,” he said, “and it tore me apart. It devastated me. You can deal with it better if it happens to you.
But it’s your child. ” He got in the car and drove to Garland. On the way, all the terrible possibilities rummaged through his mind like intruders in his home.
Eight months later, they still do.
“I try not to think of it that way,” he said, “but you can’t help it. ” Ms. Webb had to deal with the day-to-day reality. She relied on all her instincts. She cut back on Brandon’s curfew. She told him he couldn’t stay out in the sun. She reminded, she scolded, she nagged.
“We’d get in arguments all the time,” he said. “She was making me stop all the things I wanted to do. ” Brandon, his mother and father went to counseling. Talking to the doctors, Ms. Webb cried as she revealed her fears.
Brandon finally understood. “I said to myself, `I have to calm down,’ ” he said. “I love my mom, and it hurts me to see her sad. ” But he got a concession. His mother gave in when he told her he wanted to play football, and he returned to the team in August.
Mr. Martin had some initial qualms. He knew of no football players with cancer. He took precautions, and Brandon responded. He played well, he looked good, he worked hard, and it was easy to forget he had a problem at all. Only recently has he come to the point where he will admit when he is too tired to continue.
“Before that,” Mr. Martin said, “we’d just see him wilting and wilting and wilting. ” One day in practice, Mr. Martin turned and saw Brandon lying at the other end of the field, coiled in a fetal position. The coaches and trainers ran to his side, and Brandon recovered quickly.
“I was scared to death he was in real trouble,” he said. “It seems like we took it for granted that day. ” He looked up from the ground he was studying.
“It only takes one day. ” So far, that day has not come. Brandon’s parents try not to think about that possibility. Mr. Cooper is glad his son still plays football. “My biggest concern was whether he’d still be able to play sports,” he said.
“You take everything away from someone, and they can really be depressed. ” Ms. Webb had a more difficult time coming to that point. “As a parent,” she said, “all you want to do is pull him in. ” She didn’t consider who might be reaching out to her son.
It was the first thing he thought when he learned he had cancer.
“It was kinda hard,” he said, “but I figured I’d be OK because of all my friends on the team. ” He looked straight into a stranger’s eyes.
“I love all these guys,” he said.
PHOTO(S): 1. (The Dallas Morning News: Michel Fortier)