Jessica Burg, SUNYAC
Each year, the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) honors individuals for their ability to overcome obstacles and serve as an inspiration to others. Given the Award of Valor, recipients exemplify the true meaning of perseverance, dedication and determination to overcome a life-altering event. The SUNYAC wishes to congratulate Brenden Fesinger of Brockport on being one of this year's recipients of the Award of Valor.
Brenden Fesinger is a football player at Brockport. He had surgery at Boston's Children's Hospital in April 2011 to remove most of a cancerous tumor from the front left lobe of his brain. At the time doctors tried to take away football, a piece of his heart, he did everything to continue playing.
Fesinger played football from the time he was old enough to chase his older brother Tre around their Syracuse backyard as their dad Donald tossed them passes. Their mom, Michelle, looked on with that usual mix of love and worry that mother's have for their children.
Ten years ago, Brenden and his brother were riding bikes down a sizable hill that turned out to be a blessing. He didn't negotiate a turn and slammed into a school. He was wearing a helmet, but his parents took him for a CAT scan just to be safe. It was then that they discovered he had a cyst on his brain. The family now jokes that the accident may have saved Brenden's life.
"We never would've found out I had this until maybe it was too late," Fesinger said.
For the next six years, he had to undergo bi annual scans until one day it was revealed that the "cyst" had grown into a quarter-sized tumor. Surgery then showed the cancer. Doctors could not remove all of it though, given its location.
When Fesinger was going through radiation treatments, and dealing with the hair loss and fatigue, it was the thought of playing football again that got him through the day.
With all his family's support as well as his perseverance, he returned to the field for his sophomore season at Westhill High School. He wouldn't let this dreaded disease define him.
There was a time when one of his lead oncologists said, "You, known, if it was up to me, you wouldn't be playing football ever again," but Fesinger refused to listen.
"It was the hardest thing to hear," Fesinger said. At the time, the only thing he could focus on was not allowing cancer to take away his dream. He wanted to play college football and he was not going to let anyone or anything take that away from him.
Fesinger may not be cancer free, but doctors are now ok with him playing football. He goes to Boston annually for an MRI.
If something changes, then he will have another decision, but right now, he will continue to live his dream of playing college football.
On May 14, the SUNYAC will host its annual Awards Banquet in Syracuse to honor its 2017-18 award recipients.