When the Super Bowl Championship Parade on Wednesday passed near Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., the oncology team and cancer patients cheered one of their own — Mike Pennel, defensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs. The childhood cancer survivor was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor, the most common form of kidney cancer in children, at age 2.
“I’m not supposed to be here right now,” he said, during a pre-Super Bowl visit with kids undergoing treatment at Children’s Mercy.Read More
Pennel, 28, brought toys, video games, board games and hope to the hospital’s young oncology patients, according to a report in the Kansas City Star. “To be in this position where I can show these kids that you can still accomplish your dreams after this, is a dream come true,” he said.
When he spotted Dr. Alan Garnis, a longtime pediatric oncologist at Children’s Mercy, his visit turned emotional as the two reunited. “That man saved my life,” Pennel said, pointing to his former doctor.
Chiefs’ defensive tackle and cancer survivor Mike Pennel visited kids in the hospital on Monday less than 24 hours after Sunday Night Football. pic.twitter.com/hm2CSZVlxP
— Matt McMullen (@KCChiefs_Matt) December 24, 2019
When Pennels mom, Terri, saw Dr. Garnis, she wept, according to the Kansas City Star. For 18 months, it reported, Terri had made the two-hour round-trip drive from their home in Topeka for her toddler’s four-hour chemotherapy sessions.
Pennel told the paper his dream of playing in the NFL began when he was age 5. When, in 2016, he joined the NFL, “I full-blown cried like a baby,” his mother said. “Only we understood what he’d been through.”
About Wilms Tumor
Nearly all cases of Wilms tumor are diagnosed before the age of 10, with two-thirds being found before age 5, according to the National Institute of Health.
Symptoms it says include abdominal swelling or a mass in the kidney that can be detected during a medical exam, abdominal pain, fever, a low number of red blood cells, blood in the urine, or high blood pressure.
About 5% to 10% of those diagnosed with the cancer develop multiple tumors in one or both kidneys.
With proper treatment, the NIH says, children with Wilms tumor have a 90% survival rate.