Cambrian: Sports

Coast Union volleyball coach returning to campus — cancer free

Pam Kenyon
Pam Kenyon

It’s likely that varsity volleyball coach Pam Kenyon will be among the most enthusiastic returning staff members on campus when Coast Union resumes classes this fall.

Kenyon, a Coast Union graduate who returned to her alma mater 25 years ago to teach science and coach softball, basketball and — for the past 23 years — volleyball was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 2013.

But less than three months after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments, surprisingly and amazingly, Kenyon’s February PET scan revealed she was cancer-free.

However, the tumor remains in her body (she opted to avoid surgery) and just to be sure the cancer won’t spread, she continues the chemotherapy and other medications her doctor prescribes.

“I’m doing a maintenance program just to keep the cancer at bay,” she explained. “I am stronger and working on my physical fitness, hiking and walking a lot, so I can be ready to coach in the fall.”

Every other week Kenyon takes a dose of chemotherapy at home, and every two weeks she has “infusions” at a center in San Luis Obispo.

That infusion procedure takes about an hour and a half. They put a line in her vein “and pump me full of a targeting drug that goes right to where my tumor is.”

Knowing that she will soon be coaching and teaching is the “driving force behind what I do every day,” she said.

Asked what her initial response was last December when the doctor informed her that she had colon cancer, Kenyon explained that she has “a strong belief in God, and I knew that God’s plan for me wasn’t to be knocked over by this cancer.

“The first question I asked my doctor after he told me I had cancer was, ‘OK, how long is this going to take for us to be done with it?’ He said it would be a year. He also said, ‘We’re going to get through this — we’re all in this together.’

“There was no real doubt in my mind that this was going to be solved, so I could go on with teaching and coaching and my family.”

However, Kenyon knows that in order to avoid any remission of the cancer, “It’s going to be a lifelong maintenance program that I’m on.”

Although she loves the classroom — she teaches anatomy and physiology — coaching volleyball is “icing on the cake. It’s really fun to work with the quality of kids we have here. To see them grow and get to know them — I’m really looking forward to that.”

Kenyon’s volleyball team begins Aug. 11. The first match is Sept. 25, a home contest versus Shandon.