Former Plant City High School Football Star Blindsided by Cancer Gives Pep Talk at Moffitt Cancer Center

April 04, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. — For two years, Russell Kemp basked in the glow of Friday night lights as an offensive lineman on the Plant City High School Raiders football team. He loved the challenge of the sport and says it prepared him for the biggest battle of his life — fighting cancer. 

By the time doctors diagnosed Kemp with stage 4 liver cancer in March 2015, it had already spread to his left hip and fractured it in two places. Despite the devastating diagnosis, Kemp tackled cancer with the fierceness of taking on a rival team. He remained confident and drafted a game plan with the help of his doctors. 

Kemp spent months in the trenches at Moffitt Cancer Center undergoing surgery and aggressive chemotherapy, which caused him to lose 50 pounds, only to suffer a major setback — the treatment stopped working. 

Refusing to be defeated, Kemp graduated from Plant City High and participated in a clinical trial that may run interference on the cancer. 

Kemp took part in Moffitt’sSeek and Speak Your Story program, which teaches patients how to create a movielike script detailing their journey before cancer and explore how the disease changed their life. 

Kemp is one of four patients who will share their story during Moffitt’s A Night of Stories to Inspireevent on April 12. He hopes to inspire and motivate the crowd by showing them the difference a positive attitude and winning spirit can make while going through the trials of life. 

Kemp has been in the clinical trial only since March, and it’s too early to tell what effect the treatment is having on the cancer. In the future, he hopes to move from the sidelines back to the gridiron by helping coach football at his alma mater. 

WHO: Moffitt Cancer Center
WHAT:Four cancer patients will share their unique stories of self-exploration describing who they were before cancer and where this journey took them. A Night of Stories to Inspire also provides a networking opportunity for cancer patients and caregivers.
WHERE: The Ferman Family Conference Room in the Stabile Research Building at Moffitt Cancer Center, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa
WHEN: April 12, 6-7:30 p.m. 

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. One of the three largest cancer centers in the United States based on patient volume, the Tampa-based facility is one of only 45 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, its contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the top-ranked cancer hospital in Florida and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer care since 1999. Moffitt devotes more than 2 million square feet to research and patient care. With more than 5,000 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $1.9 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit, and follow the Moffitt momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.