The football field can be one of the most violent places in all of sports.
It can also be one of the most peaceful.
"When I walked out with the kids, I just sort of stopped and took a moment," said Scott Braswell. "You never realize what you have until someone tells you it could be taken away."
The Hoggard head football coach and athletic director has been diagnosed with chordoma, a rare cancer the forms in the skull and spine.
"You know I'm at that age right now that I want to see my son coach football games, see my other graduate from medical school, see them get married, hold a grandbaby," Braswell explained. "It's just like a left hook that brings you to your knees."
Braswell's chordoma was found at the base of his spinal cord.
"It's in a tricky area but the doctors are very optimistic as it's a slow growing cancer and we caught it pretty early," Braswell said.
A pain in his lower back led to a doctor visit, which led to a specialist in Chapel Hill and eventually a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis which is where the surgery will be performed.
The surgery, scheduled for August 26, will be done in two phases and will likely keep Braswell hospitalized for eight to ten days.
"When I was first diagnosed I thought, ok, let's have this taken care of like it was going to be outpatient treatment," Braswell said. "I was quickly reminded that I'm now on cancer's time, I'm not the one making the schedule."
Braswell will be on the sidelines for the season opener August 22 against South Columbus, but after that he's leaving it up to the doctors.
"I sort of thought maybe I'd be back for the Lumberton game, maybe. But it could be Topsail when conference play begins, it's really up in the air right now," Braswell said.
In his absence, Braswell's assistant coaches will guide the program.
"It wasn't long after being diagnosed I thought, well maybe I should just step down because I didn't want to be a distraction," Braswell said. "I'm in a better place now and being around the game, the kids, my coaches, it's what's best for me."
Community support has been overwhelming for Braswell and his wife Rita who have received messages of support.
"All of the love, prayers, and support have deeply touched us," Braswell said. "Without Rita by my side I don't know how I would have made it through this. We've held each other a lot, and that's the best medicine for me."
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