Marcus Cannon opens up about his cancer diagnosis

In an interview of cancer-stricken TCU offensive lineman Marcus Cannon conducted after the Patriots made him a fifth-round draft pick, ESPN’s Suzy Kolber kept it light.  As in very light.  As in Stepford Wife light.

The interview, conducted with Kolber’s trademark perky nonchalance, made us wonder within the first couple of questions whether she even knew about the diagnosis.  When it became obvious that she did, we wondered whether she realized that non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a condition far more serious than an ingrown toenail.

In a new interview of Cannon, conducted by Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe, Cannon opens up about his diagnosis.

He had been told that the mass in his abdomen was benign, even after a biopsy had been conducted at the behest of one or more teams that were concerned about the condition.  Cannon then found out that, despite the initial conclusion, the growth includes cancerous cells.  He called his mother to break the news, and then the reality of it struck him.

“I broke down after that,’’ Cannon told Young.  “I don’t know if it was more me, or telling somebody else, like thinking about what everybody else was going to feel.  I just broke down after that.

“I got in my truck, started driving.  I was crying.  Hysterically.  It was just fear — I didn’t know what was going on.’’

His father was stunned by the news.  “I was thinking they made a mistake.  I was like, ‘Marcus don’t even catch colds, you know?” Ebbie Cannon told Young.  “When [Marcus Cannon’s mother] Holly first told me, I thought, ‘No, this is a mistake.’  It was just unbelievable.  We started talking to the doctor and seeing that it wasn’t a mistake and it just started going to the point of how do we deal with it and go from there.’’

When the growth was first discovered in 2006, a needle biopsy determined that it was benign.  Marcus Cannon opted for a more extensive surgical biopsy this time around, in the hopes of settling the question once and for all.

Though the news wasn’t good, at least he now knows his true condition.  And the prognosis remains positive.  He had his first chemotherapy treatment on April 28, the first day of the draft, and he’ll have three more, with the last one coming on June 29.

Cannon remains upbeat and positive, and he’s not thinking about the money he lost by falling to round five because of the diagnosis.  “You know, He has a plan,” Cannon said.  “I’m not supposed to be thinking about stuff like that.  I got close, I started thinking about it, and I was going to say something about it and something caught my tongue.  I had to ask God for forgiveness for even thinking it.  He has his plan for me; that’s not even something I need to worry about.

“I’m doing exactly what I want to do.  I know where I was supposed to go in the draft, and for me to look back on that is dwelling on the past.  And what’s in the past is already gone; it’s only the future.  I’m keeping my eyes forward.”

We’ll be keeping our eyes on Cannon’s situation, and we’re hoping that he’ll soon get the clean bill of health that he previously had thought he’d been given.  Along the way, he’ll potentially inspire plenty of other victims of cancer who will resolve to continue to pursue their dreams while living through a nightmare.

19 responses to “Marcus Cannon opens up about his cancer diagnosis

  1. The plus side is that it’s a 90% survival rate. The minus side is that it’s still cancer. A full recovery is quite a bit more important than playing football. Good luck with both.

  2. Best to him. Athletes talking about fighting through adversity and the “no one thought we could do it” motif makes for a good story, but it’s not life. This is life, and I hope he lives a long and fruitful one.

  3. Sad to hear about this. The fact that the news of this broke just before the draft tremendously hurt his draft stock. Instead of being drafted in the late first or maybe even the second round, he got drafted in the 5th.

    The fact though is the that extensive test that draftees are forced to go through probably saved his life. I hope he comes through this okay and I am rooting for him.

  4. Best of luck Marcus. You will be the first Patriot I will root for. Well I did root for Teddy after the stroke also. You will be the 2nd Patriot I will ever root for!

  5. My father had it, he will never see the field. First the treatment kicks your ass. Then you never feel the same again.

  6. He seems to have a good attitude about it, which I think helps. Good luck, hopefully he makes a FULL recovery and goes on to have a long NFL career. I’ll be rooting for both him and Mark.

  7. I am currently undergoing treatment for Hodgkins (1 more!). While it’s different than Non-Hodgkins (higher success rate -95%), I believe it’s the same treatment. The fact that he’s going through 4 sessions is awesome and he should be back to normal in 6 months. diehard Browns fan, but I will certainly be pulling for his kid.

  8. My heart and prayers go out to Marcus and you too Mitch! May God bless, keep, and heal you both! Stay positive and focused. Leave any negativity where you find it. Be well!

  9. Unfortunately, the Patriots were smart in taking this kid, and they will likely grab Herzlich as a UDFA. *I was hoping the Browns would take those chances, because I absolutely love guys like this. They face death & beat it….. Think they won’t be able to master the game of football following that & a clean bill of health? You are nuts if you think these guys will fail!
    Good luck Marcus, I personally look forward to seeing you on the field.

    * Though they didn’t, I was happy with the addition of Pinkston nonetheless…. Another late round steal of an OL.

  10. Thanks guys. I’m 100% in remission. No sweat off my brow. Running and working out have really kept me mentally in check. Couldn’t have gotten through it without it, so hopefully Marcus finds the same to be therapeutic.

  11. This sounds exactly like the lymphoma I have had for three years. It is something you can live with if you watch it. I would have drafted Cannon in the third. The teams are afraid of the word Cancer and should not have let this drop him that far. He will be fine.

  12. nj22 says:
    May 9, 2011 8:48 AM
    Best of luck Marcus. You will be the first Patriot I will root for. Well I did root for Teddy after the stroke also. You will be the 2nd Patriot I will ever root for!

    –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
    Oh man…now I know this lockout is starting to get to us all..a nyj fan is TALKING NICE about a Patriot? 😉

    I am glad Marcus has a strong family to lean on. he seems like a good kid.

    mitch-glad to hear it, may you stay 100% in remission-best wishes!

  13. Charisma, you are wrong. Just because your father had lymphoma does not mean he has the same kind. His appeared as lumps in the skin–visible and they grow at a slow to moderate pace. It can be treated and contained, although it tends to recur. Again, I could be wrong, but my oncologist thinks we have the same thing. I work out, run, do yard work, etc. with the same level of energy I had before-between treatments. He will undergo Chemo for a couple months and radiation treatments after that. He will experience fatigue, but he can schedule th

  14. Charisma, you are wrong. Just because your father had lymphoma does not mean he has the same kind. His appeared as lumps in the skin–visible and they grow at a slow to moderate pace. It can be treated and contained, although it tends to recur. Again, I could be wrong, but my oncologist thinks we have the same thing. I work out, run, do yard work, etc. with the same level of energy I had before-between treatments. He will undergo Chemo for a couple months and radiation treatments after that. He will experience fatigue, but he can schedule th

  15. I was diagnosed with Hodkin’s lymphoma about 5 years ago and finished treatment a year and a half later. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t much fun. You get the opportunity to really study the details of your toilet bowl, standing over it waiting to see if your stomach can find any more bile to upchuck. The chemo sessions get progressively worse as your body learns what is happening to it; by the last session I was ready to rip the needle out of my arm the moment the last drop drained into my veins.

    The drugs also do some weird things to your brain chemistry, it can be struggle to maintain your identity and personality at times. When it’s all over, you wake up to find your life neatly divided into two segments, pre-cancer and post-cancer. I have not found my quality of life has degraded at all since recieving treatment, although the road to recovery was quite a bit longer than I expected. It was a good 18 months after the last treatment before I felt anywhere close to normal.

    The thing I found to be most important during treatment was to avoid people that felt pity for me. Dealing with their pity forced me to be strong for them, which was a burden I really didn’t need in my weakened state; all their pity did was remind me of my illness. Staying focused on something real, apart from your disease, is critical to getting through each day. The disease is not who you are, it is something you are dealing with; one of these days it will be dealt with, it will be behind you and you will be able to move forward as a stronger person for having beaten this disease.

    Good luck Marcus, the prayers of this atheist (can’t hurt to ask, right?) are with you.

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