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Virgen's View: Boy with brain tumor honored as part of UCI team

May 10, 2012|By Steve Virgen
  • Kevin Freeman, in the yellow jersey, who has brain cancer and was adopted as a team member for the season, was part of the national championship celebration for the UC Irvine men's volleyball team on Tuesday.
Kevin Freeman, in the yellow jersey, who has brain cancer… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

There wasn't a big match to be played on Tuesday, but a member of the UC Irvine men's volleyball team remained nervous for an important event dealing with the Anteaters.

If you were at the celebration ceremony to honor the UCI team's national championship you wouldn't notice he was a bit anxious. But you could understand his excitement.

There he was, Kevin Freeman, in his No. 1 gold jersey standing with his teammates at UCI. It was a big day for him.

"I was happy to be with everybody," Kevin said a day later.

Kevin, a 15-year-old from Irvine, became a UCI team member through a group called the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which sets up sports teams to adopt kids with brain tumors.

The Anteaters confronted challenges throughout their season, yet finished with a championship and were celebrated for their outstanding performance.

Kevin's journey continues. He was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor when he was 9. He's experienced plenty of highs and lows, along with chemotherapy and surgeries.

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His family, father Steve, mother Corrine, brother Andrew and sister Julia, have held on to hope throughout the past six years. They helped him when he needed to regain speech, leg movement and coordination after his first surgery in Memphis.

The cancer appeared to be gone. Kevin went back to school and started to get back to playing ice hockey.

But it was revealed a new tumor was found in his left temporal lobe in July of 2009. He battled through 30 doses of radiation treatment in August and an additional round of chemotherapy in October. Then he underwent five additional rounds of chemo through March.

It wasn't over. After he became a part of the UCI team — shagging balls at practices and sometimes hanging out with the team after matches — doctors discovered the cancer returned last month.

On April 16, just two days before Kevin's 15th birthday, doctors confirmed the cancer was back.

Kevin will start a new low-dose long-term chemo regimen later this month. He went through surgery Thursday. He had a sub-dermal port inserted into his chest to help with infusing medicines and fluids and for taking blood samples.

"Although the outlook for patients with recurrent medulloblastoma is not pretty, we continue to have hope," Corrine said in an email.

Being a part of the UCI team has made Kevin happy and he's been excited each time he has been with the Anteaters.

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