Kevin McDowell Isn’t Letting Cancer Crush His Dreams

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Undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, elite triathlete Kevin McDowell, 18,  remains focused on returning to the sport.

The plan for Kevin McDowell’s future developed last summer in the month between his silver medal at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and his bronze at the World Junior Championships in Budapest.

McDowell would graduate early from Geneva High School in January, make his debut on the professional triathlon circuit at Clermont, Fla., in early March, then graduate from the sprint distance to the Olympic distance a month later at a race in Mexico, beginning a program he hoped would lead to the 2016 Summer Games.

Then McDowell raced so well in Florida the plan seemed conservative. In a field full of pros, he finished 10th.

“He surprised all the other pros, the other coaches and probably himself a little,” said Keith Dickson, who coaches McDowell and several other top young triathletes on the St. Charles-based Multisport Madness team. “It was pretty exciting.”

As they finally were getting ready for bed, Traci McDowell, a registered nurse, noticed a swelling below her son’s left collarbone. He had discounted it and figured it was just a bruise. She decided it should be examined.

Two days later, 18-year-old Kevin McDowell learned he had Stage 2a Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphactic tissue. Six days later, he began a 12-session course of chemotherapy.

The plan had to change.

Read more: Chicago Tribune