Former Panther defeats cancer


Courtesy of Karen Fort

Former Panther Trevor Fort in the hospital for his treatments. Trevor received chemotherapy for three and a half years, and finished on July 9, 2017.

Kyle Soto, Staff Writer

A young teenager has a spot on his head where his hair has started falling out. He and his parents travel from doctor to doctor as the spot grows larger and forms into a lump. On a Thursday afternoon, the boy’s mother receives a phone call from the doctor informing her that she needs to pick up her son from school and take him to the emergency room at Egleston.

He’s confused as to why he is leaving school to go to the hospital. The family spends the night there and on the following day the oncologist delivers news that will change their lives forever: Trevor Fort has leukemia. The first words out of Trevor’s mouth after he heard the news, “When am I going to die?”

The day Trevor was diagnosed his world just stopped and stood still.

— Karen Fort

The doctor told the Forts he had a greater chance of being hit by a car than dying from leukemia, but a strenuous and tolling journey ensued. Trevor stayed at the hospital until the following Monday when he received a port, a small disc that sits just under the skin and is used to give chemo, and a large amount of medication.

The incision from Trevor’s port would not heal and a month later the doctors said he had a blood infection. The infection traveled from his port incision to his hip bone causing Trevor to feel excruciating pain. The doctors took out his port and drilled a hole in his hip to remove the infection, resulting in Trevor having to learn how to walk again with a walker. The medical issues continued to arise resulting in Trevor staying in the hospital longer than expected.

Trevor stayed in the hospital for another month and developed pneumonia and blood clots in his lungs. He also developed a rash from head to toe. “Once we got past the shock of the diagnosis we were shocked by how long he would be in treatment,” mother Karen Fort said.

Trevor soon began his chemotherapy and was later diagnosed with another blood infection which resulted in Trevor being hospitalized again. Throughout his treatments he received 36 spinal taps, two blood infections, and four surgeries. “I think I can count on one hand in three and a half years how many times he complained,” Karen said. “He was so strong and I always tell him he’s my hero.” Although the leukemia was out of his his blood after eight days and out of his bone marrow in 28 days after beginning his chemotherapy, Trevor was in treatment for three years following his diagnosis.

Trevor began feeling neuropathy, which causes nerve pain, and one year after his diagnosis, Trevor was 5’10” and weighed 115 pounds. His mother described him as skin and bones and tearfully discussed how Trevor’s friends didn’t “stick with him” after his diagnosis. “Their lives kept going on, which I understand,” Karen said. “The day Trevor was diagnosed his world just stopped and stood still.”

Trevor wasn’t able to have a traditional high school career. He attended Starr’s Mill his freshman year and then transferred to Whitewater High school although he only attended Whitewater one full semester. “I wasn’t able to finish my sophomore year and ended up having to repeat a year of school,” Trevor said.

Due to his treatments, Trevor was in the hospital for eight week and he fell behind in his academics. He attempted to stay on pace to graduate by taking classes over the summer, but he was not able to catch up. Trevor began attending Faith Academy in Stockbridge where he picked up his school work once a week.

Courtesy of Karen Fort
Trevor poses for a picture with Evan Gattis, a catcher for the Atlanta Braves at the time. Trevor’s mother, Karen Fort, reached out to the Braves who extended an invitation to meet some of the team.

“It helped me graduate and I don’t think I would have been able to keep going to regular school because of my appointments. I would have missed a lot of school,” Trevor said. Trevor graduated from Faith Academy in the class of 2017, and while he was attempting to have a normal life, organizations that help create opportunities for children with terminally ill children soon reached out to Trevor.

Throughout his journey, Trevor has maintained a positive and upbeat attitude. During a drive back from Ohio, Trevor told his family he wanted to do something to give back to those who helped him throughout his journey. Minutes later he received the opportunity to do so.

The Forts received a call from the Children’s Hospital informing Trevor of an opportunity on Trevor’s birthday to speak about his medical history at a silent auction with Braves Hall of Famer John Smoltz. Trevor sat right across from Smoltz at the dinner and helped raise over $30,000 that went to the Children’s Hospital.

Events like this helped Trevor believe he was being used for something greater than himself. Karen stated her friends and family were extremely supportive during Trevor’s treatments and The Fort family received meals from neighbors when they returned from late nights at the hospital. “My brother and I realized life is too short to constantly fight,” Trevor said.

While Trevor’s journey has been difficult, there are some positives to take from it that helped him and his family cope. Trevor is a huge baseball and Braves fan and took the opportunity to meet some Braves players. One of his dreams was to go to the Atlantis water park, and Make-A-Wish made that happen.

Trevor was fearful the anniversary of his diagnosis would be the worst days of his life, so his parents decided to have a party to show Trevor how brave and strong he had been. His last day of chemotherapy was July 9, 2017.

Trevor’s journey has been difficult and emotionally taxing. He has made the most of everyday because he realized life can be shorter than expected. He and his family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Trevor is studying sports management at the University of Cincinnati and they hope to start fresh.