In December, then-sophomore Cameron Cantrell underwent a procedure that would change the course of his life forever.  At just 16, he received a risky and life-saving heart transplant.

After a grueling recovery process where he spent nearly a month in the All Children’s Hospital and an additional ten days in the Ronald McDonald house, Cantrell was able to return home on Jan. 13.  Today, he has returned to the school and is enrolled for his junior year, but in order to accommodate his new heart’s demands, he’s required to stick to a strict pill regimen.  Along with the exceeding number of pills Cantrell must take daily come a long list of rather negative side effects.

After a heart transplant in December, Cameron Cantrell was required to complete his sophomore year on Florida Virtual School. He was, however, able to make his long anticipated return to public school for his junior year.

“It’s really hard for me to concentrate when I’m on so many pills a day, and my main medicine, Prograf (anti-rejection medication), is really doing a lot of negative stuff to me,” said Cantrell.

On top of having to deal with his medication’s side effects, which include symptoms such as hair loss, back pain and sweating, Cantrell has also been completing his last two classes of sophomore year on Florida Virtual School.

“Just trying to manage and blend together public school with my virtual school has been difficult for me, but hopefully in due time everything will sort itself out,” said Cantrell.

As far as other difficulties pertaining to his return to Steinbrenner, Cantrell discussed his difficult readjustment to the campus, while struggling to balance class work and his unpredictable health.  Regardless, he’s relieved his new heart now enables him to partake in a great deal more physical activities than he was capable of prior to surgery.

“One thing I’m really glad about is that my finger nails aren’t purple anymore and that I’m able to run faster,” said Cantrell.

With the once daunting surgery now nine months behind him, the 17-year-old had some encouraging advice for those who may be currently struggling with his same situation.

“Just go with the flow, be brave and have a good life,” said Cantrell.

With the rest of his life available to look towards with a healthy heart, Cantrell plans to focus simply on getting stronger and readying himself for any other obstacles that may lie in his way.

Hannah Crosby / Staff Writer

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