‘This is God’s child’ | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | August 18, 2017 5:00 pm
Last Updated: August 16, 2017 at 10:31 am
Town, friends, employer support Sapp family with fundraiser.
By JULIE HOFF
Crowds turned out Saturday to support Cottageville resident Tony Sapp, a popular young man who’s battling the recurrence of a rare form of cancer.
Sapp, a Round O native, is the son of CJ and Craig Sapp. He and his fiancé, Breanna Hall, are the parents of Grayson, 14 months. The family’s devout Christian faith gives them strength to face Sapp’s new recurrence, which has targeted his lungs.
Saturday’s benefit, spearheaded by Breanna’s aunt, Toni Nix, included a huge yard sale and $10 plates of grilled Boston butts, chicken quarters, perlo and green beans, cooked by Dean Nix, Ernie Carroll and Keith Cleveland.
In 2008, Sapp was 17 and a student at Colleton Preparatory Academy when he was diagnosed with a tumor, called adenocarcinoma, on the tear duct gland in his right eye. It is considered “extraordinarily rare,” according to published medical research on sites such as www.cancer.net. Sapp said his doctors told him fewer than 100 cases are reported annually worldwide.
“My only symptom was blurred vision,” he said. “I never had any pain.”
Sapp, now 26, had multiple surgeries and radiation at the world-renowned M.D. Anderson cancer treatment center in Texas, and chemotherapy at the Medical University of South Carolina.
His right eye was removed, but he kept his sense of humor. “I was walking sideways. I was walking into walls. And you should have seen the side of my truck,” he quipped.
Losing an eye was a tough adjustment, he said — “I threw a lot of tennis ***** to work on depth perception” — but the treatments worked. Eventually, doctors found no sign of cancer in his body.
Sapp — who is 6’5” with a beaming smile — started working at Scout Boats in Dorchester County, a job he loves. He and Hall, who met while four-wheeling on Parkers Ferry Road in 2009, bought a house in Cottageville and started renovations. On their first night in the empty house, he asked her to marry him. Then Grayson Parker Sapp was born, and life got even better.
But earlier this summer Sapp started experiencing shortness of breath. In July doctors told him the cancer had come back, this time in his lungs.
“The doctors said it’s not lung cancer,” Hall, 24, pointed out. “It’s the same kind of cancer I had before, but they said for it to go from tear duct to lungs never happens.”
This time, Sapp is having chemotherapy every three weeks. After three months, he’ll have body scans to see if the treatment is effective.
His employer, Scout, “has been behind me 100 percent,” he said. “They have done so much to help me, and they said ‘Go do what you need to do, your job will be here.’”
As yard sale traffic bustled outside the couple’s home, family and friends passed through the living room. There’s no sense of dread or doom. Most people are laughing and joking, including Sapp. He has coped with cancer, losing his eye, and adjusting to a new normal with astounding grace.
“It hasn’t been easy, but it’s nothing I can’t handle,” he said. “I stand strong in my faith, and I know there’s a reason for everything that happens. I’m going to get over this, too.”
He and Hall attend Word For Life Ministries in Walterboro, led by Minister Eric Campbell.
“They have been a testimony to our family,” his mother, CJ, said, patting her son’s chest. “I would love to tell you he gets his attitude from me, but he doesn’t — this is God’s child.”