'Things happen:' Corner Canyon football player battling cancer with community's help


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DRAPER — Corner Canyon’s Cameron Forte broke his femur in the Chargers’ season-opener last August, an injury that cost him his senior year.

Several months later, the Forte family is dealing with a challenge no teenager ever wants to hear: cancer.

But with the help of friends, family and the Corner Canyon community, Cameron is determined to win the fight and help others who are fighting the same battle.

An Eagle Scout, a 4.0 student and with recruiting interest from the likes of Stanford, Michigan, Utah and BYU, Cameron seemed to have it all going into his senior year.

“I was excited for my senior year. I was the starting running back, playing a little linebacker, and I was also the starting punter,” Cameron said last fall. “My whole life had been built up for this year. Since Little League, you always talk about your senior year.

“I was excited … I was expecting a good season. And then life just throws curves at you, and you have to take them.”

Cameron suffered a broken femur in the Chargers’ season-opener against Pleasant Grove. But life without football changed his perspective.

Courtesy photo: R.J. Forte
Courtesy photo: R.J. Forte

“After my break, it really opened up my eyes,” Cameron said. “I became closer to the Lord, closer to my family and friends, and it opened up what means the most to me.”

As he recovered from the broken leg, Cameron began preparing for a life away from the game he loves. He received a call to serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Benin, Africa, a French-speaking country located between Nigeria and Togo.

“I was super excited,” he said. “Seeing all my sisters go, they were an amazing example, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Three weeks later, doctors discovered a large, cancerous tumor where the break occurred. Initially believed to be in his lungs, Cameron’s cancer — officially Ewing sarcoma, a form of bone cancer that most commonly affects teenagers and young children — was confined to his leg.

“All of a sudden, everything just shifted gears,” Cameron’s father R.J. said. “To have an even tougher mission come about has been very difficult.”

Ewing sarcoma has a survival rate of 56 percent, up from a 30 percent survival rate of previously mentioned lung cancer.

But that didn’t make the diagnosis much easier, at first — especially to his parents, who had to deliver the bad news to Cameron.

“We walked in and had tears in our eyes with heavy hearts,” R.J. Forte said. “He said, ‘Dad, I have it, don’t I?’ I just said, ‘Yeah, you do.’ It was a tough moment.”


Things happen. You can’t ask why; you can’t say ‘Why me?’ You have to look for the best in things. Staying positive through it all, and knowing where you want to be, is how you can help others while doing this. Not being able to go on a mission sucks. But I look at this as my mission, and I hope to help as many people here as I would have in Africa.

–Corner Canyon senior Cameron Forte


Word quickly spread throughout the community. Cameron’s friends at Corner Canyon wanted to help. The LDS Church’s Draper 10th Ward held a special fast for Cameron on April 10, and the football and lacrosse teams filled the chapel overflow area on the day.

“I don’t know how you get through something like this without having faith in a high power, to be honest,” R.J. Forte said. “The miracles we’ve seen through this whole process — we were told this was metastatic, then told it all of a sudden did a 180 — and it was after the prayers and fasting of people who weren’t religious, people who hadn’t ever gone to church.”

His teammates shaved their heads and classmates wear bracelets with his name engraved on them. The school’s dance company even shaved the backs of their heads and wrote No. 31 on their shoulders — a tribute to his former football uniform — for a senior-night performance in honor of their team manager.

Cameron inspired a lot of people at Corner Canyon. But the biggest inspiration, perhaps, came to the teenager as he battled cancer. It’s a battle his parents wish they could fight for him — but one a young man already afflicted with so much has taken in stride.

Cameron Forte laughs as the audience sings him happy birthday at the start of the Dance Company Concert at Corner Canyon High School in Draper on Monday, April 18, 2016. The concert was dedicated to Forte, who is battling Ewing sarcoma. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
Cameron Forte laughs as the audience sings him happy birthday at the start of the Dance Company Concert at Corner Canyon High School in Draper on Monday, April 18, 2016. The concert was dedicated to Forte, who is battling Ewing sarcoma. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

It’s easier to do because of his friends, too.

“The support has been unreal,” an emotional Cameron said. “It’s amazing to see everyone come together. I’m honestly just truly grateful and blessed for it all.

“It helps so much.”

His teammates rarely left his side, and even Utah coach Kyle Whittingham made the rounds during one stay in the hospital. Cameron still faces months of chemotherapy; doctors hope to shrink his tumor, then remove it and — if necessary — may need to replace his femur with an artificial bone. But the prayers of his friends give him the strength he needs to fight.

“Things happen,” he said. “You can’t ask why; you can’t say ‘Why me?’ You have to look for the best in things. Staying positive through it all, and knowing where you want to be, is how you can help others while doing this. Not being able to go on a mission sucks. But I look at this as my mission, and I hope to help as many people here as I would have in Africa.

“Through this all, it really just shows me what means the most to me and what I need to do to help others. I look at it as if I’m fighting for others with cancer, and all I can do is stay positive through it all.”

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