Friday, August 2, 2013

Guest Post: The Meldrum Mile

I am posting this on behalf of my friend John Coons. It's not totally related to BYU sports, but the U of U is participating in the raffle with some signed memorabilia, and they are in the process of convincing BYU athletics to participate, too. And of course, I'm always in support of fighting cancer! More info about the event can be found here and here.

On August 30th there will be a fundraising event at the Autumn Hills Park, 13400 South 5600 West in Riverton, Utah.  100% of the proceeds will be donated to Kenny Meldrum and family. The event will be a blast.  It will include food, bounce houses, a dunking machine, a color party (where you throw color at your friends), a mile walk, and a 5k fun run. It starts at 5pm and will last until 9 pm.
Kenny was diagnosed with malignant, peripheral nerve sheath cancer in early November 2012. It is an aggressive cancer made worse by the fact that it was growing on the complex of nerves located at the base of his spine fanning out to his left leg and foot. Doctors encouraged chemotherapy, but warned Kenny that this type of cancer did not react well to treatment. Along with chemo, Kenny underwent 25 high-dose radiation treatments in an effort to shrink the tumors and perhaps save enough of his leg for prosthesis. The tumor continued to grow until it reached the size of two volleyballs.  On February 28, 2013, in a 15.5 hour surgery, doctors had to remove Kenny's entire left leg and left hip. 
Kenny took a break from chemo to heal and attend rehab. When he was ready to finish his chemo and get on with life, Kenny got word that the cancer had spread to his lungs. Seven tumors smaller than a grain of rice had grown to grape-size or larger within six weeks. He chose to fight on and took oral chemo for 6 weeks. Kenny’s latest CT scans have shown that one of the tumors has grown larger than a baseball and is affecting his heart function and esophagus. 

Despite the news that Kenny’s tumor was not responding to chemo and that the doctors didn't have any other treatment options, Kenny has remained positive and still enjoys his life.  He has never given up and still has the will to live.  Kenny wants to attend a concert and hopefully visit our nation’s capital in coming months.
Just so you get an idea about who Kenny is, here are a couple stories. Several years ago he went on a winter camp out with the local scout troop. Like most scouts, Kenny brought far more treats than should ever be consumed by a single person—or an elephant, for that matter. In typical teenage boy fashion, another scout ziptied Kenny’s tent door closed after he went to bed. Sometime in the middle of the night, Kenny’s body decided to reject all that he had consumed that day. Unfortunately for Kenny (and the other boy sharing his tent), the door was locked. Consequently, Kenny did not make it outside and projectile vomited all over the tent floor. The good news is that by morning the vomit had frozen solid and peeled right off the floor of the tent. That story never gets old.

Kenny has always impressed me. While many seniors in high school were spending time figuring out how to party the night of graduation, Kenny was planning where he would go to school, how he would get there, and what he was going to do while he was there and in the future. But during this time, Kenny had a cancerous tumor in his leg. The tumor continued to grow, skipping right past the famed grapefruit-sized tumor until it was the size of two volleyballs. Eventually they had to amputate his leg, and because of where they amputated, Kenny would not be a candidate for prosthesis. When all this happened, I worried how it would affect his drive and determination. The impressive thing is that it didn’t.

The first time I saw Kenny after the amputation I didn’t know what to say. I gave him a big hug, and he said he was doing fine. He mentioned how very proud he was of his younger sister who had just made the varsity lacrosse team. Then I asked him if I could come over later and wrestle with him. Apparently he didn’t catch my sarcasm because his reply was, “Sure. You will probably win, though. I haven’t had enough time to practice one-legged wrestling. I have something that teaches me how to anchor my leg and wrestle with one leg.” He was completely serious. It was as if he didn’t even know that he had cancer. He wanted to wrestle and talk about how awesome his sister is.  

Please come join me and run for Kenny.
 -John Coons

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