Du-Pec’s Kaden Degner returns to football after battle with cancer

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 9:55 PM CDT
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PECATONICA, Ill. (WIFR) - Sports can be stressful, but they can also be a motivator. For Du-Pec’s Kaden Degner, getting back on the football field was his driving force as he prepared for the battle of his life.

“There was times where I just didn’t know what to think,” explained Degner. “Didn’t know what was going to happen. So, I just kept a go-with-the-flow mentality the whole time.”

Degner found a tumor on his scrotum last May. A week after surgery to remove the tumor, he was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of testicular cancer. The Pecatonica sophomore started 24 weeks of chemotherapy in July and said the final 12 weeks were the hardest.

“Everything was difficult,” Degner said. “I was questioning if I was going to be able to come back and play basketball and football or if I would be able to come back to school.”

He had his last chemo treatment in December. Degner said the thoughts of getting back on the court and on the field helped him from letting his mind wonder.

“I had doubt the entire time. I didn’t know what was going to happen really. So I just kept my sports at the top of my to do list, I guess. Just kept pushing for it and pushing for it.”

With football being pushed back to the spring, it was a blessing in disguise for Degner.

“My big worry, throughout the summer, was football was still going to be in the fall. Had it not been moved to the spring, I wouldn’t have played.”

Degner is now helping anchor the offensive line for the Rivermen without any complications.

“It was really, really, just, a relief,” explained Degner. “Because football has always been my number one sport. It’s always been my go-to. It’s been my stress reliever. It’s been everything for me. So, being able to come out, after everything I’ve gone through, it’s like, hey.”

Degner recently had another CT scan as part of a routine check-up. It came back clear.

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