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Cancer hits HHS soccer family again

April 27, 2011

In his honest, moving and sometimes lyrical Pulitzer Prize winning history of cancer, "The Emperor of all Maladies," Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee quotes a fellow scientist who won a Nobel Prize for a breakthrough effort in identifying a critical causal link for the world's most deadly and still often most misunderstood disease.

I'll loosely paraphrase, but in his acceptance speech the humble scientist pointed out that all he and his cohorts did in earning their prestigious award was able to bring the "teeth and the fangs of the monster into sharper focus."

Homestead soccer coach Rich Dorn knows all too well how sharp the pain the fangs and teeth of the "monster" can be, having fought a well-publicized and successful battle with prostate cancer in 2003.

After returning to coaching and winning a state title with the Homestead girls team in 2007, he put that fight into perspective.

"Yes, you can say I feel blessed and fortunate," Dorn said at the time.

Now, he's wishing those same blessings and fortune upon his long-time assistant Tony Navarre, who went to see a doctor earlier this spring about a chronic sinus condition and some fatigue that just wouldn't go away.

Now Navarre is lying in a Milwaukee-area hospital in a medically induced coma having undergone a dramatic treatment for a particularly nasty form of leukemia. In laymen's terms, the complicated treatment involved chemotherapy and a dramatic "cleansing" of the blood.

Leukemia is a cancer that affects the blood-forming tissues including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. All cancers are difficult to treat, but doctors find leukemia particularly difficult to tackle, because there's no one tumor, no lesion just to simply cut out and then treat with chemotherapy.

Dorn said that Navarre is slated to come out of his coma soon. It will be after that point that doctors will be able to assess how successful the treatment was.

His heart goes out to Navarre, who is married with a young daughter.

Navarre works with Dorn on both the boys and girls soccer teams and also helps out with the Homestead hockey team.

His name is still on the current roster for Dorn's state-ranked Homestead girls team and will remain so, said the head coach.

"Tony thought he was going in to get some sinus medication," Dorn said. "When he wakes up, he's going to feel like he's in Oz.

"… We're thinking of him all the time and though he's not with us physically, he's clearly with us in spirit."

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