A total of nearly 20 hours on the operating table.
Former wrestler Scotty Norton paid the surgeons two visits as they worked furiously to remove much of a softball-sized tumor from his brain.
As if that ordeal was not enough, six weeks of radiation followed.
“For a period of time, Scotty had been suffering from bad migraines and was feeling pretty tired all of the time,” said his brother, Brian Norton. “He could not figure out what was going on.”
It was finally determined that he had cancer.
“Scotty is back to running. While he’s only doing a mile right now, just running is amazing in itself,” said Brian.
The J Robinson Intensive Wrestling Camp.
While hardly a surgical procedure, the grueling experience certainly helped prepare Scotty Norton for dealing with the cancer he now confronts.
“The camp was hell,” said Brian Norton, laughing.
Scotty is one of Gwen and Robert Norton’s seven kids. The family roster is made up of Bob, who is 36; Jerry, 34; Brian, 33; Doug, 31; Scotty, who turned 30 on January 18; Bonnie, 28; and Kevin, who is 24.
Nearly all of the boys attended the camp run by Coach Robinson at the University of Minnesota. They would spend nearly the entire month of July on the college campus in Minneapolis. Don’t get the wrong idea; arts and crafts and S’mores were not part of the core curriculum.
“Every morning, you would get up and it would either be an intensive run or an intense session in the weight room,” said Brian Norton. “And that was just the start of the day.”
If it was a running morning, that meant going out to the 400 meter oval. The campers would arrive about the same time that roosters were just waking up and doing pilates. They’d jump rope 1,000 times and then run four laps. Then they’d jump rope 800 times and do three laps. You get the idea. It was not exactly a warm up jog around the neighborhood.
It was referred to as the John-O Run, because once the workout was thankfully finished, everybody would be sprinting to the bathroom to, most likely vomit.
When it was time to wrestle, that took place on 50 yards worth of mats spread across the indoor football field.
Participants were divided into four weight categories. At the end of the month, only four black hats were given out. Scotty, who probably weighed 110 pounds with five pounds of sand in his shoes, earned one of them.
“They went to the most insanely dedicated wrestler in each group. Scotty had an insatiable desire to be the best. He always wanted to win and do well. He pushed himself hard, harder than almost anyone else. That was his mindset,” said Brian.
Scotty remembers the camp well.
“The thing with camp is that you think you have a certain limit and they’ll push you way beyond that limit,” said Scotty. “You go beyond what you think you can do. That experience has helped me tremendously.”
It was mid August when he found out about the cancer.
“There have been a lot of prayers and faith,” said Scotty. “Hands down, it’s my faith in God that has helped me through this. There is no doubt it is Him who has helped me. There have been some difficult times, especially during some of the quiet moments at home, but I have gone through some pretty difficult moments in wrestling, and I learned never to give up.”
Scotty Norton was class president at Romeo High School. He had a 4.0 grade point average. He went on to earn advanced degrees at Brigham Young University.
When it was time to be wheeled into the operating room, Scotty had wanted to wear his black “I Did It” T-shirt from the J Robinson Intensive Wrestling Camp. The medical staff laughed, but made him take it off. Hospital gowns are the strict dress code in their venue.
Scotty Norton has not stripped himself from that attitude that earned him so much success both on and off the wrestling mat. He was a state champion at Romeo High School. The family moved from Richmond to Romeo when he was in high school.
Bob and Jerry wrestled at Richmond. Brian wrestled at Richmond for three years, and then transferred to Romeo where he became a state champion.
While living on a small farm in Richmond, the boys converted a bedroom into a wrestling room. While others might have asked for video games or something for Christmas, they put in a request to Santa for a wrestling mat or two.
“My mom was sick of us breaking furniture,” said Scotty, laughing.
Scotty lives in Arizona now. He is married to Emily, and they have two young sons, Logan and Gavin.
On the “Scott Norton - Conquering Brain Cancer” Facebook page, he writes: “I love being a dad to my two energetic, awesome little boys (ages 4 and 2). I love my wife, Emily, like crazy. We live in a great neighborhood in Gilbert, Arizona. I have been a high school health/pe teacher, wrestling coach, realtor, house flipper, and currently I work as a health and wellness coach.
I get to coach employees of Pepsico to eat healthy, exercise, quit smoking, lose weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, etc. I really enjoy it. I plan to return to school soon to become a physician assistant and bridge the gap between our current health care system and preventative health. I love sports, fitness, hanging out with my family.”
On Wednesday, Jan. 25, there will be a Romeo vs. Ford Alumni Dual Wrestling Meet. It’s a Support Scotty event designed to “crossface cancer” and gets underway at 5 p.m. Wristbands and T-shirts will be available for purchase. Following the meet, people are encouraged to go to The Office Pub & Cookery for a social fundraiser. The Office Pub will donate 20 percent of everyone’s bills to help Scotty and his family.
On Thursday, February 9, a benefit concert at the Crofoot in Pontiac has been planned by Scotty’s brother, Kevin. The admission is $8 and includes bands Porygon Mind Fortress, Wilson, Apache and Jacques Rocque.
Money raised from all benefits will help defray the medical costs of Scotty’s ongoing treatment.
For more information, visit www.supportscotty.org.