At 6’ 7”, 285 pounds, 18-year-old Shon Coleman was at the top of his game, having just committed to a football scholarship at Auburn University. However, months later, lumps discovered on his head and his body would turn out to be something no one expected: cancer.
“I was completely shocked, there was no better way to put it,” Shon’s mother said, “It was surreal”
Although she was afraid that Shon’s dreams would be lost forever, Shon’s mother told him the lumps were malignant.
WATCH THE TODAY SHOW’S COVERAGE OF SHON COLEMAN HERE
“From the first meeting he never doubted that he would beat this,” she said, “He accepted it and told me to buck up, it’s going to be okay, he’s going to be fine.”
He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. A.L.L. is a typical and life threatening childhood cancer.
“The common age group is usually a little younger,” says Dr. Deepa Bhojwani, of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, “but it’s a continuous variable.”
The cure rate has gone from 4 percent to 94 percent thanks in large part to advances at St. Jude’s Research Hospital. However, even with these successful numbers, it is still a mystery why someone as seemingly health think as Shon would be diagnosed.
“That’s the problem,” said Dr. Bhojwani, “We don’t know why kids get leukemia and that’s why we’re doing all the research.”
As Shon continues to fight the leukemia, his coach and teammates are standing behind him, holding his place on the team for when he is ready to play again.
“When you’re a great player in this league, you definitely have a shot to go on to the NFL and be a great player there as well and he’s definitely got that ability” said his coach, Gene Chizik.
Shon still works out daily and sits with his team on the sidelines. He has two years left to finish his treatment, which he compares to the game of football.
“I look at the opponent and like my coaches, they set up a game plan for me every week” Shon told NBC, “I use my game plan to overcome whatever it is to my achievement.”
In addition to his achievements, Shon’s mother’s dream of playing football again will be a reality.
“I don’t see anything that’s going to stop him,” she said, “I would say in the next two years, he’ll be running out of the tunnel at Jordan Harris Stadium.”
She and within the next several years, he’ll be living out his dream in the NFL.”
Shon’s mother predicts that withing the next several years he will be living out his dream in the NFL. “It’s gonna end with me on top,” Shon says, “I know I’m going to win.”