CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from Oct. 28, 2020.
Vermilion High School senior Camryn Colahan will be presented with the 2020 Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine Courage Award at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards, the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission announced on Wednesday. The award is presented annually to "an athlete who displays courage beyond the boundaries of their playing field, in order to inspire those around them."
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In 2018, the then-15-year-old was diagnosed with Stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of soft-tissue cancer. Prior to her diagnosis, Colahan had earned varsity letters in volleyball, basketball and track and was beginning her fourth year on a national level Junior Olympic Volleyball team.
Colahan's treatment plan called for intensive chemotherapy for 10 months and intensive proton beam radiation therapy. Although she was able to attend school, the treatment prevented her from participating in sports. The radiation also resulted in second and third-degree burns which led to her needing a wheelchair.
“So many of our patients are such incredible fighters, but what makes Cam stand out is that she makes her fight look easy, “said Stacey Zahler, M.D., Cleveland Clinic Children’s pediatric hematologist-oncologist. “She has treated cancer like a match against the toughest volleyball team – with such strength and determination, but yet, simultaneously with such grace and poise. She does not complain. She always has her game face on, and she perseveres.”
In late 2019, Colahan resumed physical activity. Last month, her family shared that after nearly two years of chemotherapy, she had completed her maintenance treatment and that her scans continue to show no evidence of disease.
“As I’ve gone through all of this, I have realized what life is about,” said Colahan. “It’s not about how many followers you have on Instagram, it’s all about how you think of things and knowing that you shouldn’t take anything for granted. Anything can be taken from you at any point. Enjoy every moment you have, and surround yourself with people that you love and make you happy.”
Colahan is currently playing for Vermillion's varsity volleyball and basketball teams and recently committed to play volleyball at Wittenberg University.
She will be honored during the virtual 21st Greater Cleveland Sports Awards on March 4, 2021, which will air on WKYC Channel 3 and be streamed on WKYC.com. The show will be hosted by 3News' Jay Crawford, with presentations and interviews from 3News' Jim Donovan.