Category: high school cancer

After surviving cancer, Kentucky HS athlete scores in basketball game

It took two years.
The last time McKinley Crain had scored in a basketball game, she was in middle school.
Then she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer known as Ewing’s sarcoma in late 2016, according to the Glasgow Daily Times.
But Monday night, after getting the tumor removed and going through chemotherapy, Crain got into the Metcalfe County (Edmonton, Ky.) basketball game for the first time this season.

More Girls Basketball!POLL: Vote for the Super 25 Girls Basketball Top Star, Week 11Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) moves up, four new teams enter the rankings
She made a layup and grabbed a defensive rebound on the following possession late in the second half.
The game was well out of hand in favor of Metcalfe County by this point, according to the Glasgow Daily Times, but everyone in the arena went wild.

@MikeCleffWBKO @wbko13sports Cancer survivor McKinley Crain (32 in white for Metcalfe Co) gets in basketball game and scores/rebounds after two year battle against Ewing Sarcoma. Standing ovation from gym. Thank you, 16th District! pic.twitter.com/SL1Bdij24M
— Deena Hurt (@CoachDHurt) February 19, 2019
“It’s a magical moment and we’re very happy that she went out there and was able to perform,” Metcalfe County coach Josh Hurt said to the Glasgow Daily Times. He added that he appreciated the opponent, Cumberland County, for their reaction as well.
Metcalfe County won the game 64-27, and Crain got to be a part of the action.

HS team rallies around coach's son who has Down syndrome, is fighting leukemia

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_8MAOPh37_BmKM743H_div’).setup(
{“advertising”:{“admessage”:”This video will resume in xx seconds”,”bids”:{“bidders”:[{“id”:”210076″,”name”:”SpotX”}],”settings”:{“mediationLayerAdServer”:”dfp”,”floorPriceCents”:25}},”client”:”googima”,”cuetext”:”Advertisement”,”schedule”:[{“offset”:”pre”,”type”:”linear”,”tag”:”%%VAST_TAG%%”}],”skipmessage”:”Skip ad in xx seconds”,”vpaid_mode”:”insecure”,”vast_load_timeout”:15000,”load_video_timeout”:15000,”request_timeout”:10000,”max_redirects”:8},”autoPause”:{“viewability”:”true”},”playlist”:”https://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/8MAOPh37.json”,”ph”:2}
);

sdpJWEmbed.start();
SALEM — The high school basketball team knew Jalen Pigg, the whiz at the 3-point shot in Special Olympics, the guy with a bashful smile and a penchant for reminding them of his 6-point career-high game. The upbeat Michael Jordan fan who belted out Alan Jackson and Bruno Mars songs using his fist as a microphone. The 19-year-old who loved pork chops and his grandma’s chili.
The Salem High (Ind.) team knew Jalen, Jumpshot Ja, because they helped with Special Olympics.
Then a year ago, Feb. 1, they heard the awful news. Jalen had leukemia. They were devastated.
But life went on, as the lives of teenage boys buried in school work and sports, enamored with Fortnite and pretty girls, has to go on.
Another basketball season rolled around with a new coach. The players were excited to have Mike Brown, one of the state’s all-time winningest coaches — No. 11 on the active list, with 484 victories.
One day at practice, in the midst of drills and running plays, Brown told the team he’d be bringing his son to practice. He loved basketball and needed some cheering up.
Brown’s son walked into the gym.
The players’ mouths dropped. It was Jalen. Worlds collided.
And now, this team isn’t just hoping the best for their Special Olympics buddy in his cancer fight.
They are watching it all firsthand through the eyes of their coach.
Jalen Pigg watches his stepdad’s basketball practice at Salem High School Jan. 23, 2019. (Photo: Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar)
‘You don’t know how to take it’
“It took my breath away,” said Brandon Pepmeier, a senior forward.
When he saw that Jalen was coach Brown’s son (technically his stepson, but Brown calls him son). When he heard that Jalen had leukemia.
“Such a big life, such a big-spirited kid with a disease like that,” he said. “You just don’t know how to take it.”

Jalen had been battling what the family thought was the flu around Christmas of 2017, but it hung on for days and then weeks. He had a nose bleed. He had pain in his knee and shoulder. His hemoglobin count was low and he was having trouble breathing.
In late January, his mom, Marni Brown, received a call from Bedford North Lawrence, where Jalen was a senior.
He had fallen asleep in class. He couldn’t make it up the stairs and was screaming in pain. Marni Brown knew. Children with Down syndrome have a 20 times higher risk than a typical child of developing leukemia.

More News!Arizona HS football coach arrested on suspicion of luring a minor for sexNavigating the college recruiting process on your own? Here's how one athlete did it
“I had been watching for it his whole life,” said Brown, who is a nurse. Within an hour of arriving at the local hospital, Jalen was transferred to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
On Feb. 1, the results from a spinal tap confirmed Jalen had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells.
“I was nervous,” Jalen said of hearing the word cancer. He’s fought like a trouper.
For the past year, Jalen has battled for his life. It’s been a treacherous 12 months with chemotherapy, nausea and unbearable sores in his mouth. He’s lost more than 70 pounds, down to 130 pounds from 204 when he was diagnosed.
He’s spent weeks at a time — one stint was more than 100 days — in the hospital, battling infection.
There was a time at Riley when Jalen looked at his mom and told her he was done fighting. He was tired. He was sick of being sick. He stopped eating and was put on a feeding tube.
“I didn’t know,” she said, “if I was going to bring him home with me.”

Jalen Pigg, left, and his step dad, Salem High School Boys Basketball Coach Mike Brown, right, are interviewed during a team practice at Salem High School in Salem Ind. on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2019. Jalen, who was born with Down Syndrome, is now battling a form of leukemia but has a lot of support from the team. After a stint at Riley Children's Hospital during the holidays, Pigg is working to build his strength and endurance back up to again help Brown with his coaching.

This Salem Teen Couldnt Wait Tio Get Back On The Court

Salem High School Boys Basketball player Brandon Pepmeier, left, and Jalen Pigg, right, know each other from both thier involvement coaching and participating in the Special Olympics, but now Jalen's step dad, Mike Brown is also the Salem High School Boys Basketball Coach at Salem High School in Salem Ind. on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2019. Jalen, who was born with Down Syndrome, is now battling a form of leukemia but has a lot of support from the team and his loving family.

This Salem Teen Couldnt Wait Tio Get Back On The Court

Jalen Pigg, the step son of Salem High School Boys Basketball Coach, Mike Brown, rests on the bleachers during a team practice at Salem High School in Salem Ind. on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2019. Jalen, who was born with Down Syndrome, is now battling a form of leukemia but has a lot of support from the team. After a stint at Riley Children's Hospital during the holidays, Pigg is working to build his strength and endurance back up.

This Salem Teen Couldnt Wait Tio Get Back On The Court

Jalen Pigg, center left, poses for a photo with step dad and Salem High School Boys Basketball Coach, Mike Brown, center right, with the boys basketball team at Salem High School in Salem Ind. on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2019. Jalen, who was born with Down Syndrome, is now battling a form of leukemia but has a lot of support from the team and his family.

This Salem Teen Couldnt Wait Tio Get Back On The Court

Jalen Pigg, the step son of Salem High School Boys Basketball Coach, Mike Brown, sings the song "Shallow", from the film "A Star Is Born" at Salem High School in Salem Ind. on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2019. Jalen, who was born with Down Syndrome, is now battling a form of leukemia but has a lot of support from the team.

This Salem Teen Couldnt Wait Tio Get Back On The Court

Jalen Pigg, left, and his step dad, Salem High School Boys Basketball Coach Mike Brown, right, rest for a moment on the bleachers during a team practice at Salem High School in Salem Ind. on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2019. Jalen, who was born with Down Syndrome, is now battling a form of leukemia but has a lot of support from the team. After a stint at Riley Children's Hospital during the holidays, Pigg is working to build his strength and endurance back up to again help Brown with his coaching.

This Salem Teen Couldnt Wait Tio Get Back On The Court

Jalen Pigg, the step son of Salem High School Boys Basketball Coach, Mike Brown, rests on the bleachers during a team practice at Salem High School in Salem Ind. on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2019. Jalen, who was born with Down Syndrome, is now battling a form of leukemia but has a lot of support from the team. After a stint at Riley Children's Hospital during the holidays, Pigg is working to build his strength and endurance back up.

This Salem Teen Couldnt Wait Tio Get Back On The Court

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s0.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “https://usatodayhss.com/sigallery/FSKxaMuJRppycuoNk6Ena5/101344977”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Jalen Pigg has team behind him”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Building strength
There’s a water break riding on the three shots Jalen is about to take. Make one and the team gets hydration, Coach Brown tells Jalen at the team’s practice last week.
Players surround Jalen, who stands halfway between the free throw line and the basket. He shoots the first shot. It goes just a couple feet in the air. So does the second shot. On the third, it looks like the ball has more momentum, but stops shy of even hitting the rim.
Jalen walks away defeated, his shoulders drooping, his head hanging. He used to be the 3-point guy.
Brown forgets about his team and walks up to Jalen, puts his hands on his shoulders and looks him in the eyes.
“It’s OK, Jalen. You’re stronger than you’ve been in a long time. Remember when you were in the ICU and didn’t even have the strength to hold a basketball, let alone try to shoot? That just shows you where you are and where you need to get. In a month, I want you to be able to hit that shot again.”
Jalen nods and smiles. He rests his head on his stepdad’s shoulder.
“I love coming to practice to see him,” said Jalen, who has helped Brown coach on the bench for years. He was just 7 years old when his mom and Brown got together.
It didn’t take long for Brown to fall in love with Jalen. It doesn’t take anybody long, said Marni Brown.
“He’s a trouper, a light. Every community loves him,” she said. “He’s a joy. He truly doesn’t meet a stranger.”
The players have all fallen for Jalen, too. When he walks into the gym, “it’s like a celebrity is here,” Brown said.
“Our kids are inspired by him. They don’t love him as much as I do,” Brown said, fighting back tears, “but they’re close.”
Jalen Pigg, center left, poses for a photo with stepdad and Salem High boys basketball coach, Mike Brown, center right, with the boys basketball team. (Photo: Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar)
‘He is darling’
Jalen came a month early in August of 1999. Marni Brown didn’t know he was a boy until he was born, named after Jalen Rose, and she didn’t know he would have Down syndrome.
Most children born with the syndrome, three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two, have health struggles their entire lives.
“Jalen had never been sick except the couple times he had pneumonia,” Marni Brown said. “Never had a heart problem, no eye problems, ears, stomach, nothing.”
Jalen Pigg was a healthy toddler with no medical issues related to his Down syndrome. (Photo: Provided by Marni Brown)
That, along with Jalen’s independence and deep thinking, prompted the family to joke that “he has half the extra chromosome,” Marni Brown said. “He didn’t get the whole chromosome.”
Jalen’s doctor at Riley, Sandeep Batra, medical director of the leukemia program at the hospital, said Jalen’s attitude has been incredible.
“Even though he’s had a lot of challenges along the way, he still is upbeat, compared to what he’s going through,” Batra said. “He is darling.”
And Jalen still has a fight in front of him. His treatment will take two more years of outpatient chemo. He has fewer than 5 percent of the leukemia cells left in his body, and is considered in remission. But it’s those final few that are the toughest to eliminate, Batra said.
“I’m hoping he stays out of the hospital and has few complications going forward,” he said  “So he can be doing the things he wants, be with the basketball team.”
Yes. The basketball team, the gym, is what Jalen loves.
Read the rest of the story at the IndyStar.