The Orlando Sports Foundation and Florida Collegiate Summer League hosted the first ever Cure All-Star Baseball game this past Saturday May 21st at the Sanford Memorial Stadium. This event hosted star players from both Orange and Seminole County high schools. The 2nd inning had a ceremony to honor those we are looking for a cure for.
This Warrior Wednesday, we spoke to Coach Kenne Brown who shared his battle with throat cancer. Read Coach Brown’s story below and be sure to check the recap on Saturday’s All-Star game.
We are closer than ever to finding a cure! We wouldn’t be able to do it without you! Consider donating today! Your support is what drives the effort to find a cure and strengthens our resolve, and makes possible the successes we achieve. Your continued support in The Orlando Sports Foundation is crucial in securing a future Cure for Cancer. Together, we will succeed. Consider donating today.
OSF:Tell us your personal story
Kenne: In 2008 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Throat Cancer after dipping tobacco for over 30 years. I had surgery on my neck area where they removed my tonsils, 17 lymph nodes, and my saliva glands. Since they found cancer in 4 of the 17 lymph nodes they removed, they had to treat the cancer aggressively. I endured 35 radiation treatments of my head and neck, and 6 – six-hour chemo treatments that ended up only being 4 because I was in very bad shape. I lost 57 pounds and was on a feeding tube for 4 months. Once the feeding tube was removed, I was unable to taste much for over a year. I still have to carry a water bottle with me because my mouth gets really dry and I easily lose my voice after speaking for long periods of times – which happens when you are a teacher and a coach! Because of the radiation to my mouth/throat and the lack of saliva glands, I have encountered many dental issues as my gums are receding terribly and my teeth are moving. But I am cancer free and healthy otherwise.
OSF:How old were you when you were diagnosed?
Kenne: 44 Years Old
OSF : What Stage were you diagnosed with?
Kenne: Stage 4
OSF: What did your support system look like?
Kenne: The very best! Dr. Henry Ho was my Head/Neck Doctor who discovered the cancer and performed the surgery that removed the lymph nodes. Dr. Lee M Zehngebot was my oncologist who tirelessly worked on my recovery and never hesitated to inspire me to get better. And Dr. David Diamond was my radiation oncologist who mapped out the perfect plan to radiate the cancer from my head and neck and keep it from spreading below my neck, where it would have killed me. Then the invaluable help and support of my family, friends, nurses, and PA’s.
OSF: Did you lose your hair? How did you manage this?
Kenne: I only lost a small corner hair from the back right side of my head. I also lost all my neck hair, which has never grown back – one less thing to shave : )
OSF: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
Kenne: Pain medication. I had rarely ever taken anything stronger than a Valium one time when I got my wisdom teeth out but they put me on Fentanyl Patches and that was a horrible experience as the patch would not always attached correctly, sending my body into withdrawals – which everyone first diagnosed as my body reacting negatively to the chemo treatments. After discovering the real problem, they switched my to Methadone – which worked great until I was cured and they told me I didn’t need to take it any longer. The problem was my body wasn’t ready to stop having it and it took them another few weeks to let me know that the reason I was hallucinating and shaking uncontrollably was my body was “detoxing” from the Methadone. I didn’t even know what that word meant back then.
OSF: If you’re a survivor, how is life now compared to life before your diagnosis?
Kenne: I am not mad I had to go through it because I am able to impact so many others with my story of survival. I am mad that I could have prevented it, because my cancer was caused from years of dipping tobacco. I was told all those years by so many people that my dipping would cause cancer. And, though most dippers/smokers never get cancer regardless of the surgeon general’s warning on every can of dip and pack of cigarettes that they can cause cancer – I got cancer.