Scott Burchett was diagnosed with cancer when he was just 31 years old. Two days later, he learned that his pregnant wife was carrying twins.
“It was quite a roller coaster of emotions, of ups and downs and trying to process all that,” he said, adding that his focus quickly became how to get better. The leader of a cancer support group in Frisco told him what to do. “She told me my first call should be UT Southwestern,” he said.
What followed was a comprehensive treatment plan at UT Southwestern Medical Center that included surgery and radiation. Burchett defeated cancer. He returned to his growing family and his work as Chief Operations Officer of the Frisco RoughRiders, one of the most popular teams in Minor League Baseball.
As Father’s Day approaches, he said he’s reminded of how his life was saved by UT Southwestern. The academic medical center is now partnering with the Frisco RoughRiders. Together, they’re calling on the community to come out to Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco on Friday to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for most pairs attaching awareness ribbons to each other.
Longtime oncologist and hematologist Dr. Thomas Froehlich of UT Southwestern will throw out the first pitch. He’s the Medical Director of all cancer clinics at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Strike Out Cancer, UT Southwestern’s special participation in the RoughRiders’ game, is a sign of its increasing presence in Collin County and is part of Conquering Cancer, the Simmons Cancer Center’s campaign to raise awareness of ways to fight cancer with screenings and preventive steps.
“I’m just so grateful for what UT Southwestern and the doctors have done in my life and my family’s life,” Burchett said. “I think it will be an emotional moment for me personally.”
Taking a preventive step was one of the most important developments of Burchett’s life; he was getting a routine medical checkup in 2012 when his doctor felt lumps in his neck. Probably nothing to worry about, he was told, but it was best to get it checked out. A biopsy showed it was thyroid cancer.
“The first time you hear that word cancer you’re scared and confused,” Burchett said. “I didn’t even understand what the thyroid did.”
Biopsy results showed he needed surgery soon, and he had a seven-hour operation with Dr. Shelby Holt. He woke up feeling groggy, and Dr. Holt visited him several hours later.
“She told me everything went really well, and she was happy with the results,” he said.
Next up was radiation – one single, powerful blast of it. It came in a pill form. The single pill was sitting inside a lead box that Burchett was told he could not open until everyone else had left the room.
“It looked like something from a science fiction movie,” he said. “You almost expected it to open up and the pill be glowing.”
The pill made him radioactive, temporarily, and he had to spend a month by himself at his parents’ house with family members leaving food at the door. It was a bizarre treatment, but it worked.
The twins were born, another daughter was born five years later, Burchett continued his work with the Frisco RoughRiders, and the family bought a “fixer-upper” in Collin County.
Burchett has worked for the team since 2004, and he helped organize the Simmons Cancer Center’s participation in the June 14 game. It will be the finale of the Cancer Center’s Conquering Cancer campaign, which encourages the public to stop smoking, get mammograms, vaccinate teens and preteens against HPV, get genetic testing for cancer, and get screened for hepatitis C and colon cancer. The Conquering Cancer campaign blends the Simmons Cancer Center’s long-standing mission to reduce cancer in North Texas with a mandate from the National Cancer Institute to broaden its public education and outreach activities.
The mandate is part of the Simmons Cancer Center’s NCI designation as one of only 50 comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. This designation puts the Simmons Cancer Center among the elite providers for cancer treatment.