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Friday, November 30, 2018

MISD Football Coach Keeps Hope as Cancer Returns

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Fear, anger and everything in between describe the feelings Daniel Maberry experienced during the past several months.

The emotional journey began in January when the Mansfield High School head football coach went to the doctor after experiencing a burning sensation in his legs and arms. He said he figured the doctor would simply prescribe him something for the pain but was stunned at the diagnosis.

“They did all sorts of tests. They did a bone marrow biopsy, and that’s when they discovered cancer,” he explained.

Maberry said it was difficult telling his family and his football team about his late-stage lymphoma, but he wanted his message to be that he will keep strong and keep on fighting.

After rounds of chemotherapy and before the start of the football season, the doctors told him that his cancer was in remission. He said the cancer was no longer in his marrow and was not visible in tests, but something didn’t feel right.

His uneasy feeling was confirmed five weeks into the football season. The coach noticed a lump on his side and checked into the emergency room. Through a CT scan, doctors found a two-inch cancer mass.

“Cancer a lot of times takes so much away from you,” he recalled about the cancer returning. “I wasn’t able to be at football games. I wasn’t able to be around the kids at school. I’m not able, necessarily, to play with my girls like I want to. So from that aspect, anger was probably the emotion that I dealt with the most; but at the same time, I’ve had a peace about it.”

Lime green and "Maberry Strong" gear popped up throughout
the community after news of Maberry's diagnosis.
The treatment for Maberry’s cancer is more aggressive this time around because doctors want to ensure that the cancer cells die. During his scheduled treatments, he carries around a backpack filled with chemotherapy medication that feeds steady doses of the medicine into his body.

The husband and father of two explained that he has good days and bad days. On the harder days, he said he tries to keep the right perspective on life and finds strength through his faith and the overwhelming community support.

“Seeing the community pep rallies, seeing the kids here and how they’ve responded—the green outs, the video that they made for me—was unbelievable,” he expressed as he fought back tears. “I’ve cried so many tears through this entire time, and it’s not for sadness. It’s for extreme joy of what these people have done for me.”

Maberry also noted that the district’s Colors for Caring initiative, in which the community is encouraged to wear cancer awareness colors to support a loved one, has also impacted his life because it lifts his spirit to see his school saturated with lime green to bring awareness to lymphoma.

The hashtag #MaberryStrong is also used on social media to highlight the different community support efforts.

“One of the biggest struggles that I had through this journey is, ‘How do I thank everybody for what they’ve done for me?’ I don’t think I can. I don’t think I could ever thank the community for what they’ve done for me mentally, spiritually, just being there for me and my family—I know I’m deeply blessed because of this community. And I’m very grateful for them.”

The coach said he doesn’t know what the future holds for him, but he is optimistic and continues to take life one day at a time.

“I know what I have is very serious. I know what I have is life-threatening, but I can’t live my life in fear every day.”