A sophomore on the Stony Brook University softball team is undergoing treatment for an inoperable brain tumor, according to officials at the school.
In July, Danielle Kemp, 19, was hit in the head by a pitch while playing in a summer softball league. When Kemp began feeling dizzy and had trouble keeping her balance, doctors tested her for a concussion. Instead, an MRI revealed the cancerous brain tumor, Kemp’s uncle, Bradley Taylor, said. Doctors cannot surgically remove the extremely rare tumor, called a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, because of its location.
Kemp, who is currently not attending school, began radiation therapy Aug. 29 and will receive treatment Monday through Friday for six weeks, said Taylor, who lives in the house next door to the Kemp family in Milford, Connecticut.
The student athlete has faced medical battles before. About 5 years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease, which she eventually overcame, her father, Clifford Kemp said.
“She beat that. She’s a tremendous kid with a fighting spirit, but this one’s a little tougher,” he said of the brain tumor. “She’s been through a lot these past couple weeks and has lost a lot of strength but is still positive.”
The family has been “overwhelmed” by a stream of support and prayers, he added.
An online campaign has raised more than $90,000 toward her treatment, with any remaining funds to go to cancer research, Kemp’s father said.
Stony Brook softball coach Megan Bryant praised Kemp as an “outstanding young woman,” and athletic director Shawn Heilbron said the school is sending its “prayers of love and support” to Kemp, who played 28 games for the Seawolves last season.
“Danni represents everything that is good about college athletics and has proven on the field and in the classroom that she has the toughness to fight this battle with every ounce of energy she has,” Heilbron said in an email Wednesday.
In her hometown, people are showing their support for Kemp by wearing blue bracelets that read “Danni Strong.”
Kemp was a standout athlete at her high school, Joseph A. Foran, where she earned all-conference and All-State accolades as a catcher and shortstop.
It was announced Wednesday that Kemp had also won the Fairfield County Sports Commission’s 2016 Chelsea Cohen Courage Award, which recognizes young athletes from Connecticut who exhibit strength in facing life-altering obstacles, the Milford Mirror reported.
Omar King, Stony Brook’s running backs coach, wrote on Twitter: “We’re #ALLIN to be there for our family and friend #DanielleKemp.”
A Stony Brook teammate, infielder Caroline Seeberg, tweeted: “Please send my amazing friend and teammate some love and support. She is one hell of a fighter!”
On Facebook, Kemp described herself as a “fighter” and wrote that she wanted to “ease people’s minds that I am in good spirits,” according to CTPost.com. “I just figured the more prayers and positive thoughts I receive, the better I will be.”