He’s a quick healer, so Brian Cannon said he expected to be up and about by now. He went in for a hip replacement on July 26 after two years of pain.
“Two weeks out, I figured I’d be out doing pirouettes in my yard with titanium and ceramic in my hip,” Cannon said.
Everything changed that day. He has mostly been in bed ever since, “laying around with no hip joint.”
Doctors found cancer midway through that hip replacement, which will likely force the amputation of part of his pelvis and his right leg.
Cannon, coach of the Hall/Southington boys hockey co-op, sounds like he’s in good spirits, relates the details of his past few weeks about as matter-of-factly as possible. But he knows things are changing.
“I’m still the same ol’ me,” Cannon said, saying he and his family surprised his orthopedic oncologist telling jokes.
“It looks like it isn’t going to kill me. It’ll kill a piece of my spirit, my plans, the way I saw my life playing out.”
“I’m so blown away. I’m learning the power of social media,” Cannon said. “It’s had an unbelievable reach, and the breadth of the response.
“The emails, the calls, the visitors: The only tears I’ve shed have been at the generosity and the concern of people. I’m worried about the voids I’m leaving behind, the strain I’m putting on people. My wife is my handmaid now.”
Cannon got a second opinion late last week that concurred with the diagnosis and treatment plan. He’s checking in with Memorial Sloan Kettering, “one last Hail Mary,” to see if they have something cutting-edge that might change their plans.
Since September 2017, Cannon said, he has had several procedures to clean out his hip joint. Each time, pain returned within a couple of months, a feeling Cannon compared to feeling aquarium gravel grinding around.
“It got to the point I was afraid to walk on the ice to shake hands,” Cannon said.
The last procedure came on March 8, and again, the pain came back. He was scheduled for a July 26 hip replacement. It was well underway when doctors found cancer.
“Maybe it developed the last few months. I don’t know,” Cannon said. “The problem is it doesn’t present itself in blood work. They don’t know what causes it.
“They took a sample and closed me up with no hip.”
Synovial chondrosarcoma doesn’t respond to chemotherapy or radiation, Cannon said, so surgery is the only option.
Cannon intends to continue coaching. His role may be different, because he won’t be on the ice for practice, but he wants to be around. It’s very early in the process, obviously, so he’s not making definitive plans just yet.
In the meantime, friends have come to watch TV, to talk, to take measurements for a wheelchair ramp, to promise to clean the gutters a couple of times a year.
“The hockey world,” he said, “it blows me away.”