Page 14 - CHSCA.Issue 1 2019-2020
P. 14

High school hockey coach Cannon counts on allies in battle with cancer
 by Mike Anthony
The Hartford Courant reprinted with permission
Brian Cannon has cried more in the past few weeks than he has the rest of his 57 years.
It’s not the cancer that brings him to tears. It’s not fear or discomfort. It’s not self-pity as he counts down the hours to losing part of his pelvis and his right leg to an amputation scheduled for Wednesday at Hart- ford Hospital.
“This is emotional,” Cannon said Monday. “Am I happy? Ab- solutely not. But I haven’t shed any tears for me.”
Cannon is overcome when he thinks about his team, how that team has come together to fight alongside him, how part of that team might be impacted by his limi- tations moving forward.
I’m not talking about the Hall- West Hartford/Southington boy’s hockey co-op team, which Cannon has coached the past 10 years and plans to well into the future. I’m talking about Cannon’s life team, the scores of family members and friends and acquaintances and even total strangers who have giv- en a most trying situation a most inspirational feel.
He’s thankful for them, those who have raised nearly $70,000 for his care since his late-July di- agnosis, those who stop by with a meal or a story or to start work on a wheelchair ramp, those who call
with suggestions or just to chat or listen. Wife Kyle has been his rock. He wants to continue looking out for all of them. Being waited on and worried about runs counter to how Cannon, always such an indepen- dent man, has led his life. He’s not used to feeling vulnerable.
That’s part of what the best coaches do, right? They celebrate and appreciate the actions of those around them and try to lead and protect them in any way possible.
“When I look at this thing, when I check my messages or my email, when my phone rings, that’s when the tears come,” Cannon said. “Amazing support. I have a hell of a lot of thank-yous to make. I worry about the voids I will create. I won’t have physical function. Barring a miracle, I’ll never be able to go out and mow my lawn or clear snow or show a kid a skating technique. Those are the things that hurt.”
Cannon, a 1980 Hall graduate who grew up in West Hartford and has spent most of his life involved in hockey at various levels in Greater Hartford, has Synovial Chondrosar- coma, a rare form of cancer that is slow-growing, undetectable via blood tests and untreatable by che- motherapy or radiation.
Surgery is the only option, and in Cannon’s case, that means leg amputation and losing part of the pelvis. It means at least a month of inpatient rehab learning a new way to go about everyday life.
This is what Cannon was pre-
paring for and bracing for Mon- day, after consultation with doctors at Hartford Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Me- morial Sloan Kettering Cancer Cen- ter in New York.
It’s been a wild week, and there was a chance, Cannon said Mon- day, that there would be a final appointment Tuesday at Sloan, a last-ditch exploration for any way to treat this without amputation. He was not confident in that. He was prepared to begin life without his right leg Wednesday.
“We’d be crazy not to take at least a look,” Cannon said. “[Sloan] might be at the forefront of some- thing that nobody else is aware of at this time. ... A boss I had once gave me the advice to only worry about what you can control. I have to put my health in the hands of sur- geons and experts. And the rehab, with the initial help I’ll get from ev- erybody, it all comes down to being on me and what I can do to keep a decent attitude and keep my chin up and apply myself and try to get over it as best I can.”
Cannon, the father of two chil- dren in their mid-20s with Kyle, has hobbled around the past couple of years, with great hip pain for a number of reasons met by a number of solutions. The latest one, which Cannon figured would be the final one, was set for July 26. He went in for a hip replacement surgery that was cut short when doctors discov- ered tumors and other irregularities
 PAGE 14 • CONNECTICUT COACH • ISSUE 1 – 2019-2020

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