CARROLLTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Kalen Berry, 17, is looking to make a comeback this year.
The Newman Smith senior safety was sidelined by cancer in July 2013. The official diagnosis was Rhabdomyosarcoma, or RMS, which is a cancerous tumor that shows up in the body’s soft tissues. Doctors discovered it during a routine physical.
Berry has been joining teammates in the weight room again. He’s up to 100 pounds in the bench press. It may not seem like much to most athletes but for Berry it’s huge. He’s just a few weeks removed from finishing his final round of chemotherapy—a treatment course that lasted 46 weeks.
Seeing Berry, means a lot to his teammates and his coach. Berry said he knows the news was tough for a lot of them especially since it came just a few weeks after the Trojans lost team captain, Jaquis Jones in a drowning that summer on Lake Lewisville.
“It was crazy,” said Berry.
Coach Paul Ressa said it was one of his toughest years as a coach to date. Winning took a backseat and the team finished the season 2-8.
“We didn’t catch a break. It was all about each other…how everyone was doing on a day to day basis,” said Ressa.
But seeing Berry battle back that’s what inspired the team to push ahead.
“He’s a guy that when someone is having a bad they just look to the locker over next to him and see Kalen. Priorities shift,” said Ressa.
Teammate Lester Melontree said the comeback has been impressive to watch.
“It just pushes me to do more. He’s fighting to be here, I’m here so when I see him doing something it makes me want to do something even more, said Melontree.
Cancer took 50 pounds off the 5’11 safety’s body frame. At his lowest, he said he weighed 115 pounds. Right now, he said he’s about 30 pounds away from his playing weight.
Kalen said he has one singular goal this year and that’s getting back on the football field for a district game. Before he can do that, he needs his “dropfoot” a side effect of chemotherapy to subside.
“My ankles are really weak,” said Berry. “They said it should clear up in a couple of months”
One look in the 17 year old’s eyes and you’ll see his steely determination. A comeback story in the making, an example worth following.
“He doesn’t know it yet but he’s teaching us how to prioritize, how to keep going. A never quit attitude,” said Ressa.
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