17-year-old fighting cancer with help from teammates

Posted at: 05/13/2013 7:09 AM
By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A 17 year old is in the fight of his life. He was just diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of cancer.  But, he's not letting cancer sideline him. He and his football team are running interference.

It's Spring Football at West Mesa High School in Albuquerque. It's 80-something degrees out on the practice field, but you won't hear the players complaining. That's because they're pushing hard for their teammate, 17 year old Zak Lannon.

His dad, John Lannon, said, "He's out here and drawing the strength from his teammates." That's a sentiment echoed by one of Zak's closest friends, Khmaree McCray. "Every time I feel like I don't wanna do nothing, I just think about him and how he would kill to be doing something right now. I just work as hard as I can for him."

In March of 2013, Zak was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of cancer, Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor. "When someone puts a prognosis of 15 to 20% survival rate on this, I don't accept those numbers," John Lannon said.

Trying to tackle the odds, Zak is powering through with this statement in mind, "You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice." Zak created that motto and it now sits above the weight room at West Mesa High. It's also on tee-shirts being sold to raise awareness and help his family through this tough time. Zak says his choices are simple, "live or die."

Zak just finished his second round of chemotherapy. While there's no doubt he has a tough fight ahead, his parents and five siblings are on the sidelines cheering him on. His dad said, "Zak is a maker. He's a playmaker, he's a history maker."

And, the Mustangs are running the plays right along with him. "If he can't play this year, he's going to be the best assistant coach we have," said Head Coach Ron McMath.

"I love him and I'm here for him no matter what. I'll always be here for him. He's my brother," added Khmaree. Zak said, "They're family."

If you'd like to purchase one of the tee-shirts to help Zak and his family, you can email westmesamustangs@yahoo.com or call Teresa at 505-907-8431.

For more information on Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor, visit: http://www.stjude.org/stjude/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=996d061585f70110VgnVCM1000001e0215acRCRD.

You can also check on Zak's updates on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/Zak36Survivor