Overcoming Adversity on the Rink: An Interview with Brian Cannon

Charlotte Kennedy, Staff Writer

Brian Cannon has been coaching kids for 30 years now, and nothing has gotten in the way of him continuing to share his love for hockey with the youth of West Hartford. For the past 10 years, Cannon has coached the Hall-Southington boys’ ice hockey team and has done a remarkable job at teaching his players important lessons on and off the ice. One of these lessons has been to never give up, and, in the past year, Cannon has embodied what it means to find strength in difficult situations. 

It all began with a “simple” hip replacement.  Roughly eight weeks after the first surgery, the doctors ran a biopsy and discovered that Cannon had a condition known as synovial osteochondromatosis, in which your body stops producing the fluid that cushions your joints.  

The doctors recommended another surgery.  Coach Cannon said, “I went in on July 26, I think, it was for my hip replacement and I woke up from surgery to see a rather concerned looking surgeon talking to my wife and my sister about my situation.” 

As it turns out, during the second surgery, the surgeon found a tumor in Cannons’ pelvic bone that was identified as a synovial chondrosarcoma.  This is an extremely rare diagnosis (only about 2000 cases occur in America per year). What’s more, the treatment options for this type of cancer are limited because it does not respond to radiation or chemo. 

After getting multiple opinions from physicians at several hospitals, Cannon decided to go through with an external hemipelvectomy. In regards to his greatest challenge post-amputation, Cannon says, “It was actually easier once that leg was removed because in the previous months it was unusable.” 

Supporting both legs and additional body weight on one leg was not an easy task and, as Cannon describes, “It was really difficult with no hip joint. That was worse than losing the leg for the most part.” 

Cannon is adjusting to his new lifestyle with patience and determination. He claims that everything is difficult and everything requires more energy, focus, and time than before, but he is learning how to accommodate. New railings on stairs, a left foot gas/brake pedal, and a walker with a tray are just a few examples of the changes that Cannon has made to make his life a little bit easier, all the while learning how to do some things all over again. 

Coach looks forward to this upcoming ice hockey season and hopes that he can achieve a winning season because this year the team has a “pretty decent roster of kids.” More importantly, Cannon went on to say, “The hockey world is just unbelievable for what they’ve done. Absolutely unbelievable.” 

The support that Cannon has received post surgery has been more than anything he could’ve ever imagined. A GoFundMe page was set up by his sister-in-law with a goal of raising $50,000 to assist with medical bills and accommodations to the home, and within two weeks it had surpassed its goal. As of now, over $90,000 has been raised to assist Cannon and his family. “I’ve had people come out of the woodwork that I haven’t talked to or seen in decades but they’re there to support me,” Cannon claims of the outpouring of support. 

This comes as no surprise to many who know Cannon as a dedicated coach and active member of the community. Coach says, “You don’t realize what you’ve given to people, which I think is trivial because I just do it automatically; it’s me, it’s the way it is, and you just don’t realize how many lives you’ve touched.” 

It’s become quite clear that Cannon has already impacted so many and will continue to do so in the future. If you or someone you know would like to contribute to Coach Cannons’ GoFundMe page, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-brian-cannon and donate anything you can. 

An alumni game will also be held on Saturday, November 30 at Veterans Rink in West Hartford, CT from 5-8 pm to raise money for Coach Cannon. If you are interested in participating, please email hallsouthhockey2019@yahoo.com with your graduation year and position, or come out and show your support!