Profile in courage
by Katy Ruth Camp
May 21, 2010 12:00 AM | 4382 views | 5 5 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marietta High School senior Perry Beasley and his parents, Mike and Salli Beasley, learned the startling news on March 25 — Perry, an outstanding student headed to Birmingham’s Samford University to play football, has cancer. Perry held on to his faith and the support of family and friends as he gallantly battled his disease — and he’s holding on to his dream of playing college football. <br>Photo by Thinh D. Nguyen
Marietta High School senior Perry Beasley and his parents, Mike and Salli Beasley, learned the startling news on March 25 — Perry, an outstanding student headed to Birmingham’s Samford University to play football, has cancer. Perry held on to his faith and the support of family and friends as he gallantly battled his disease — and he’s holding on to his dream of playing college football.
Photo by Thinh D. Nguyen
MARIETTA - Perry Beasley, 18, is strong. He's a force on the football field, he's solid in his faith in God and he has immovable love for his friends and family.

But on March 25, Beasley learned he has Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin's Disease, a form of cancer.

"When I first found out, I went into my room and I just cried. I was doing really well in school, was going to play college football, was becoming stronger, so I felt a little helpless, very frustrated, and couldn't help but think, 'Why me?' But that didn't last long, and eventually I just made our house a no-cry zone. I was going to beat this, I was going to be OK, and needed to just focus on what's next," Perry said.

Earlier in the year, Perry, who played offensive line and long snapper for the Marietta High School football team, was selected as a preferred walk-on at Samford University in Birmingham, so he began working out even harder, trying to build strength and muscle. He lost 22 pounds in a matter of months, and couldn't understand why things were going in the wrong direction. He also noticed that he was constantly tired and had toothaches. In addition, his skin felt itchy all over, and he had night sweats.

In March, when he found a mass on the left side of his neck, he saw his doctor. After several rounds of tests, doctors told him he had a cancer with a 90 percent cure rate, but that his life was about to change.

"We felt like a train had hit us, we were just in shock," said Perry's mother, Salli Beasley. "But we picked ourselves up and knew we were going to get through this, and Perry's positive outlook and faith has kept us all going."

Perry soon began chemotherapy, which could last up to eight months. After that, he'll undergo radiation treatments.

He had to miss school and stop weight training, and transfer his focus to simply getting well. Sheila Colquitt, an English teacher at Marietta High, became Perry's tutor, sometimes visiting his home to help him study.

"He has been extremely forthright and positive through it all," Colquitt said. "He is never afraid to talk about what he's going through and is surrounded by friends and family who care deeply for him. He's just a soft-spoken, kind kid with this quiet strength and the exuberance of youth."

As the spring continued, Perry said he drove to the school just to see his friends after school. Although his hair was falling out, he vowed to hang on to as much as he could until after prom.

At Samford, he hopes to study business and one day become a sports agent. The football officials there have promised he can still play, when healthy, so they will list him as a medical redshirt. Perry said there is a chance he may have to push his enrollment date back if he has to complete the full term of chemotherapy and radiation through the end of September, but that he is hopeful his chemotherapy will be shorter than the maximum eight months so that he can move off to college in the fall like the rest of his friends.

Perry's best friend, Chas Ellis, said Perry has remained the same "fun-loving, sociable guy he's always been."

"He's been through a lot, but it hasn't really changed who is at the core. He's not letting this bring him down - he's still hanging out with friends, still cracking jokes, still that same amazing guy that everyone loves. After me, I'd say he's a really popular guy," Ellis joked.

Perry's dad, Mike, said having an end date makes the situation a little more bearable for the family, which also includes Perry's sister, Bonne, 22, who just graduated from the University of Georgia.

"This is curable, and is not a life-long debilitating disease, so in many ways, we're fortunate. That doesn't mean there aren't bumps in the road, but we'll get there one day," Mike Beasley said. "The love and support for Perry, sometimes from people we don't even know, has just meant so much and it's nice to know that Perry is using this to make an impact on others."

Perry, who with his family is an active member of Marietta's First Presbyterian Church, has already spoken to various Christian groups about his experience with cancer, and he said would like to continue to share his testimony.

"God has put this in me for a reason, and I'm surprised by my strength. But a lot of that comes from my faith," Perry said. "I can't wait to see what God has planned for me at the end of all this."
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Jack Brymer
May 31, 2010

I am retired from Samford although I continue to work parttime as needed in the Advancement

Department. I graduated from Samfordin 1967.

My second grandson was a freshman at Auburn three years ago when he came home (Bham) for his father's birthday. He asked my wife, Shirley, a nurse, to check a swelling in his neck. She advised that he have it check immeidately, which he did. Three days later he had surgery to remove what was thought to be a benign tumor. It was not. It was Hodgkins Disease and was "involved." He had it in all but one lympnode in his neck.

Just wanted you to know that he is finishing up at Auburn, has regular checkups but is free of the disease and looking forward to graduating.

I share that to encourage you. There are more people than you can imagine who have and/or had this disease but who are free of it an doing well. Keep up the good attitude and we look forward to seeing you at Samford. And I suspect in a football suit before it is over.

P.S. Dr. Westmoreland first shared this.

Jacki Brymer
Don McDonnell
May 25, 2010

You're an inspiration. An example of..."When life deals lemons, make lemonade...and share it!"

I appreciate your example of faith in God and your courage. Look forward to coming out to see you long snap for Samford in the future.
Roy Sullivan
May 25, 2010
Perry you are an inspiration for others and it makes people proud to see how you are handling this adversity. I know the God has something wonderful in store for you after you have been refined in the fire. I know this because about 10 years my son Chuck went through a very life threatening ordeal and we thought we were going to lose him but God was faithful after putting him through the fire,he came out on the other side and God has blessed him tremendously afterwards.
just a mom
May 21, 2010
Great Story. You are true example of the courage God has blessed you with. You will be in my prayers!
Bobby Thanepohn
May 21, 2010
Perry, you keep that great attitude and I wish you all the best at Samford! Remember this: In life it's not where you go that's important. It's the journey getting there.
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