#ParkerStrong: Loveland HS basketball coach attacking cancer during winning season

“He’s like a superhero”
Updated: Jan. 8, 2021 at 7:34 PM EST
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WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Loveland High School’s girl’s basketball coach is in the fight of his life — against cancer.

Coach Darnell Parker received his diagnoses in October.

“They found I had colon cancer,” he said. “Through more scans, it had spread into my liver.”

Parker, a father of two daughters, says the news was shocking and a “punch to the gut.”

“You hear the ‘c’ word, and everything goes black, and some tears, because you think the worst,” he recalled.

Staring down a season sidelined by cancer, Darnell didn’t waste a moment feeling defeated. He took the same competitive energy that’s always fueled him on the court, refusing any doubts that he wouldn’t return to the huddle for another winning season.

“He’s so selfless that you can’t even really know he’s going through things,” said assistant coach Keith Braswell. “Everyone is always talking about how amazing he is to show the strength and fight.”

Two weeks after his diagnosis, Parker began a grueling regimen of chemotherapy. The treatment sessions last as many as six hours every other week. Forty-eight hours afterwards, he has to wear a fanny pack that connects to a port, which feeds the treatment into his body.

He wears it while he’s coaching, despite the side effects of extreme fatigue and coldness throughout his body. That’s why you’ll rarely see Parker clapping; he has to wear gloves.

“I’ve always been a competitor and had this mindset of, I wasn’t the biggest or the fastest kid, but I was scrappy,” he said. “That’s how I’m attacking cancer.”

“He’s like a superhero,” assistant coach Brad Early said. “I don’t know how he gets that poison in his body. He hasn’t missed much practice. He hasn’t missed a game.”

Parker says the team dedicated the season to him when they discovered what he was fighting.

“This was the team that was supposed to fall off after losing two big players, in a lot of folks’ eyes,” Parker explained of his Loveland squad that is now 12-1. “It wasn’t for us, and the girls in the gym. We were like, ‘We’re going to be even better.’”

Parker’s next big checkup is Jan. 19. He’s hoping for good news.

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