Kyle Frazier, who was one of the 18 young men to sign a football scholarship to attend Savannah State in February has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer of the lymphatic system.
Frazier, who is a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive lineman from Augusta, Georgia, made the announcement on his Twitter account on May 4.
When asked if there was a history of cancer in his family, he stated that his six-year old sister suffers from leukemia and Gaucher’s Disease.
The Glenn Hills High School senior said that the scary part is that he had no symptoms and actually worked out for an hour before getting home and noticing something was wrong with his neck.
“I came home from school on April 23 and I happened to look in the mirror and my neck was huge and hard on one side. I showed it to my mom and she immediately took me to the emergency room at Aiken Regional Medical Center. The emergency room doctors ordered a CT and a biopsy was done on April 24 that confirmed the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with Nodular Sclerosis,” he said.
Frazier, who also plays on his high school basketball team, said the first thing he asked his mother, who is a cardiac imaging specialist, and the doctor was is it curable and can he still play football. The doctors that are treating Frazier already had a working relationship with his mother for years. They explained the diagnosis and told Frazier not to google it, because google would give him extremes and probably different types of Hodgkin’s and scare him more than he already is.
Since the diagnosis, Frazier’s mother, Kenya James, has been his rock.
Like anyone who gets ill or goes through trials and tribulations, they always ask “why me?” Frazier is a good kid who does not hang around a bad crowd, drink or do drugs. In a response to her son’s plea, Kenya told her son “Kyle this is life and life comes out you fast and hard. It’s just coming at you super early. A person can do everything right and things still go wrong.”
The 17-year old honor student and all region football player said that he was scared about the cancer word but everyone around him remained calm. “I found out later why my mom kept stepping out the room in the emergency room. She left so she wouldn’t freak out or cry in front of me nor did she allow anyone else to cry in front of me.”
Frazier met his Oncologist on April 26 and had a port placement so that he can receive chemotherapy treatments on April 30. On May, 1 he had a bone marrow biopsy. The following day he had a Positron Emission Tomography Scan and the day after that he had my first chemotherapy treatment. “It went fast. I was hurting but I had to do it. My port had to be in place for at least 2twodays before they could use it. It was still sore from the procedure,” he stated.
He went on to add that he is taking chemotherapy every two weeks with a four hour infusion and neulasta shots everyday for four days after chemo to help keep his white count up. Chemotherapy will often cause nausea, vomiting, extreme fatigue, constipation and hair loss. “The doctors say I might lose my hair between the second and third chemo treatment. If the chemo works well I won’t have to have radiation.”
Frazier was discharged from the hospital on April 26 because he wanted to attend his senior prom. “My mom told me to just enjoy the prom and we will worry about the Cancer stuff after prom. She said that night I was cancer free. I wanted that night to last forever because I wasn’t ready to face the unknown of my disease.”
Frazier said that he has to have a dozen chemo treatments every two weeks and the last one will be in October. In between procedures and chemo, he is finishing up his last assignments because the last day of school for seniors is May 17. “I already had five A’s and two B’s. The two B’s messed me up for all A’s. I had an 88 in AP English Language and an 89 in AP calculus.”
As soon as the treatments are complete and he has been medically cleared, Frazier still plans to attend Savannah State and play football for the Tigers. “I worked hard for my scholarship on the field and in the classroom. I love the game. Coach (Shawn) Quinn did not take my dream. If I would have gotten diagnosed with cancer and my scholarship taken I believe it would have broken me spiritually.” Frazier, who also received football interest from Albany State, Tusculum, Greensboro College and Shorter, plans to major in Biology and eventually become a Doctor of Physical Therapy or a Chiropractor.
Throughout this episode, Frazier has nothing but praise for those closest to him. “My family is awesome. My mom, dad, aunts, uncles, siblings, and cousins rallied around me. They were at the hospital before I was situated in my hospital room. Their confidence became my confidence. They prayed for me and strengthened me spiritually. They are always positive. My classmates and my teachers were shocked and sad. I have super relationships with my teachers and they have my back. My Galilee Missionary Baptist Church family has been very supportive to my family and I. My mom took a chance and did a fundraiser with a $5000.00 goal on Facebook. My goal was met in one and a half days. It is amazing the outpouring of prayers and love from complete strangers. I was overwhelmed with the amount of love I have received.”
Savannah State head football coach Shawn Quinn has also been very supportive of Frazier and his family. “My mother called Coach Quinn as soon as I was diagnosed because she knows football is my world. He told her ‘No worries. Kyle is a Tiger and we will work this out and work through this. His scholarship is not dead in the water’. Just hearing that Coach Quinn said that gave me a spark because even though I have cancer I still have football.”
When Frazier made his twitter post about his diagnosed, he was surprised to receive a response from Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner who was diagnosed with stage two cancer back in 2015. “ I was a little nauseous but I still jumped and screamed. My mom thought something was wrong. He sent me a direct message some words of encouragement and some advice that is private. I told him that I didn’t want to exploit him reaching out to me.”
Frazier won’t be the first SSU football player to play following a bout with cancer. Former Tiger running back Joshua Berry was diagnosed with acute leukemia in November 2010 at the age of 15. After chemo treatments and blood platelet transfusions, Berry was back on the gridiron. The Ludowici, Georgia native played two years for SSU in 2014 and 2015. His best game came against North Carolina Central where he ran for a pair of touchdowns in 2015.