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Health Team

With cancer in remission, football player is playing again

Posted September 10

— Surrounded by football teammates, Kane Hogan stretched a wide smile across his face while interacting with peers.

Jokes were swapped. Laughter filled the air.

A few years ago, Hogan said, he would have taken moments like this for granted.

Not anymore.

Even though Hogan, 17, is just a Danville High senior, he already has faced more significant adversity than many experience in a lifetime.

In January 2015, Hogan was diagnosed with leukemia.

"That was an eye-opening moment," Hogan said. "I had just finished my freshman season of football. I was living a regular teenage life. Then everything changed. Things got serious, and in a hurry. I broke down."

Now, almost three years later, Hogan is finishing the final rounds of a winning battle against cancer.

Earlier this year, Hogan and his family received news from his doctors that his cancer is in remission, and years of coping with aggressive medical treatment are coming to an end.

Hogan received his final round of chemotherapy at the St. Jude's affiliate clinic at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children. He will take his final dose of oral chemo.

Hogan recently got more good news, too.

In June, Hogan's doctor cleared him to play football. When Danville played at Clements, it was the first time since 2014 that Hogan got to run onto the field with his Danville teammates, fully suited up and eligible to play.

"I was determined to get back out here for my senior season," said Hogan, who plays running back. "At first, I wasn't sure if my doctor was going to clear me. But I was persistent, and made sure they knew that I was physically able to do this."

Since Hogan's initial diagnosis, the Danville community has rallied around the teenager.

Visit the school any day of the week, and it's not unusual to see students or faculty wearing orange shirts with a purple "K'' on the center — similar to the Superman logo. This was started by the school's girls basketball team, and it quickly gained traction.

Hogan's story even spread outside the Tennessee Valley. In September 2015, while Hogan was in the middle of receiving 80 weeks of aggressive chemotherapy at St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, reporters from Sports Illustrated visited Danville's campus to highlight his inspirational bout with leukemia.

Now that Hogan is in remission, the students and faculty still wear the orange "Super Kane" shirts. But now it is to celebrate his remission and a return to the sport he loves.

"Man, I can't explain how thrilled we were when we got the news," Danville senior running back Jacob Morehead said. "When Kane showed up in June to work out with the team, everyone swarmed him. He's our brother. We love him, and we've been fighting this alongside him every step of the way."

Danville coach Josh LouAllen agreed.

"When Kane told me he could play again, it was an emotional moment," he said. "When I was visiting Kane at St. Jude, not long after he was diagnosed, I told him that I had a dream about him, and that he was back on the field, and that he scored a touchdown. It was a vivid dream. I even remember the specific set and play.

"Now we're going to get a chance to make it happen, and Kane will get a chance to celebrate with his teammates. If anyone has earned the right to celebrate, it's that young man."

Hogan's return to football has not been easy.

During the past year, Hogan's chemotherapy was reduced to once a week, but it still took a physical toll.

Hogan also sustained kidney damage during the aggressive chemotherapy treatment, which means he has to drink twice as much water as his peers to stay hydrated.

"Each week, the first couple of days after a treatment were challenging," Hogan said. "Chemo drains your energy. You just have to push through. Plus, Coach LouAllen, and all of our coaches, has been great. They've made sure that I eased back into this — not letting me take on more than I can handle."

For Hogan, getting an opportunity to play again has been special.

When he was at St. Jude, he said the thought of returning to football was a source of inspiration.

"Growing up, football always has been my favorite sport," Hogan said. "I love the game, so when that was taken away, it was depressing. But mom made sure that I stayed positive, and helped me deal with the things that I could control.

"Now all of that is behind me. Go through something like this, and it changes how you look at life. I promise, you won't take anything for granted. So I'm enjoying life, and getting to play football again with my friends. I'm blessed to have this opportunity."

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