Cody Liskey, 14, and his family thought they were visiting the hospital to deal with his appendicitis. However, while Cody’s appendix was fine, the doctors would find something more dangerous in the teenager’s body: an adult form of kidney cancer.
Cody’s older brother Brandon Liskey, a freshman on Belmont’s baseball team, was in just as much shock as the rest of his family when the diagnosis came through on Jan. 2, said Brandon.
Brandon would be there to support his family for the first few days after the diagnosis, but would have to return to Belmont for the spring semester.
“I got to see him for those few days afterwards, but it was a little hard for me to not be home to see him and offer support,” said Brandon.
Cody was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, a form of kidney cancer which accounts for more than 90 percent of all adult kidney cancer cases.
The family did get a little lucky because the doctors discovered the cancer while it was in its earliest phase.
“It’s a blessing. I’m pretty glad we found it the way we did,” said Brandon. “The way the doctors were talking, if we hadn’t found it so soon, he really could have had some serious trouble.”
While the cancer may have been in an early stage, it would still need to be taken care of immediately to avoid it spreading further before it was too late.
Due to the resistance of renal cell carcinoma to radiation, Cody was forced to go under the knife to remove the source of the cancer,
“It doesn’t respond to chemo or radiation so he had a five or six-hour surgery where the doctor removed his entire right kidney,” said Brandon. “The entire tumor came out in one piece.”
Cody’s battle with cancer drew the attention of baseball head coach Dave Jarvis, who wanted the team to rally around a charitable cause.
“It was already something that was in our mindset to begin with,” said Jarvis. “What his younger brother was going through added to that.”
The baseball team wore gold laces in support of the charity fundraiser Go4theGoal during a game against Vanderbilt on March 22. Go4theGoal is a charity program which works with athletic teams to raise money to fund pediatric cancer research and provide financial support for families affected by cancer.
Jarvis believes working with Go4theGoal and having a family member of a teammate go through this experience has brought the team closer together.
“I think that anytime we have one of our team members or one of their family members that are going through a hardship like this our program and our kids have been very compassionate to the families and the individuals,” said Jarvis.
The game against Vanderbilt was an especially important one for the Liskey family as Cody made the seven-hour trip from Harrisonburg, Virginia to Nashville in order to throw the first pitch. Brandon felt a mix of emotions as he saw his brother come out to throw the pitch.
“I kind of teared up afterwards because that was the first time I had seen him in a little while,” said Brandon. “I know that was something he was really big on. He wanted to come down and do it.”
Cody still has to go in for scans to ensure the cancer is completely cleared from his body, but for now Brandon feels blessed things have gone the way they did. Brandon feels like the experience ultimately drew his family closer together.
“It definitely sewed us more together as a family,” said Brandon. “I know he felt all the love.”