Health and P.E. teacher and women’s cross country coach Ken Manwarring learned he had multiple myeloma and amyloidosis last year on Sept. 20.
Multiple myeloma is a bone marrow cancer limiting the number of health-sustaining cells in the marrow; amyloidosis is a rare blood disease caused by an abnormal kind of protein, which in Manwarring’s case, is located in the heart.
Both of these diseases are treatable but incurable, so a complete recovery is impossible.
“Mentally, it devastated me because I am a normal, healthy middle-aged man who is active, and this completely came out of nowhere,” Manwarring explained.
“Physically, I am no longer able to do some of the things I used to do. I rarely run, I do walk, I do still bike, but my fitness is definitely affected because of the disease in my heart. I get tired more easily,” Manwarring said.
Manwarring underwent weekly chemotherapy, which comprised of one injection and two sets of pills, for 20 weeks from October to February.
This caused him to miss one day per week of school, and in effect take time off of teaching and coaching.
“Coach actually didn’t tell us he had cancer until the end of our cross country season because he thought it could have affected our running. None of us would’ve guessed he was ill… he didn’t miss many practices and always had a positive attitude,” junior Liz White said. “I know he devoted as much time as he could to coaching without letting his cancer influence cross country training.”
Manwarring received a stem cell/bone barrow transplant on April 15, lasting two hospital stays, and missed the remainder of the school year.
The first hospital stay lasted five days when his stem cells were collected and frozen. The second stay lasted 15 days, and included two days of intensive chemotherapy, followed by the return of his stem cells on April 15.
After a four-month recovery, Manwarring began weekly chemotherapy again on Aug. 22, which will continue for him every Friday until mid-December.
“All of the WGHS staff and students who are aware of this are extremely supportive, especially my cross country girls,” Manwarring said.
One of those girls, senior Sarah Addison, started a fund raiser on May 10, to show the community’s support by selling light green T-shirts saying, “Team Ken,” for $15 if at least 11 people buy them.
“I definitely didn’t expect the shirts to be the success they were…the school board got involved and a bunch of teachers bought them,” Addison said. Both students and staff purchased enough T-shirts in the previous order to produce a check of $700 for Manwarring.
“The Team Ken Shirts were such a cool thing. Sarah Addison started the fund raiser, which was a tremendous success. It was such a sweet thing for her to do, and I am truly appreciative of her and of all who purchased a shirt,” Manwarring said.
People can keep up with how he’s doing under his profile of Ken Manwarring on caringbridge.org.