- Joshua Cantrell - Joshua Cantrell - Chance Harman - Kassidy Foster
In The News

January 26, 2007
Letter to the editor of the Virginian Leader

Subject: Thank you Giles County

From: Steve Conley


Sent: Monday, January 15, 2007 11:45 AM



To the Editor:


The view from atop Angel's Rest is certainly an inspiring one of Pearisburg and the New River Valley.  But after last Wednesday evening, I will forever first look in the distance for Giles County High School. There a multitude of Giles Countians raised much needed money for two little boys from Floyd County (Joshua Cantrell and Chance Harman) who are battling brain tumors, and in the process also lifted the spirits and touched everyone who was there.


We all learned a few things in that cafeteria and at that basketball game.  First, that the American spirit of caring and generosity is alive and well in southwestern Virginia.  Second, that the angels aren't resting in Giles County.  They are hard at work helping their neighbors.


All of Floyd County is deeply grateful.

Steve Conley

January 26, 2007
Community continues to help two sick children

January 25, 2007
Community continues to help two sick children

Many of you have been touched by our recent story of the two sick children from Floyd County.  Three-year-old Joshua Cantrell is battling a rare brain tumor.  Four-year-old Chance Harman is also battling a rare brain tumor.  Both are currently being treated at Duke.

The girls on Floyd County High School's Basketball team will tell you, their coach Alan Cantrell is one tough guy.  But when it comes to family, that toughness is hard to find.  His grandson, Joshua, has already had surgery to remove most of the tumor.  This week he began radiation treatments.  It hasn't been easy. 

Chance Harman has had two surgeries.  He will begin radiation next week.  There is no guarantee either child will make a full recovery.  The community has helped raise more than $15,000 for the two families.  The next fundraiser, a barbeque dinner, takes place tomorrow night at Floyd County High School.


January 17, 2007
Basketball benefit for the Boys

Dayspring Christian Academy & Faith Christian of Roanoke Raise Money for the Boys

JV & Varsity Basketball Game Special Benefit

Pat Vaughn

The atheletes of these two Christian academies played for the Boys last night.  The team captains John Thomas and Joey Mock prayed for the boys and their families with the crowd before the tip-off of the varsity boys game.

Students decorated the gymnasium walls with little hand prints and hearts with Chance and Joshua's names written inside.  Total collect thus far for admission, concession proceeds, and donations totalled more than $720.  

January 17, 2007
East Montgomery Basketball Benefit

Even Greater Success!
Eastern Montgomery High School Benefit Raffle

UPDATE! This just in!  Actual total raised was $5,000!  Thanks again to EMHS!

Pat Vaughn
Monday, January 22, 2007 1:57 PM

Great Success!
Eastern Montgomery High School Benefit Raffle

Pat Vaughn

The game and the drawing took place on Tuesday, January 16 when FCHS and EMHS boys' basketball teams played in Elliston. Many donations have been received and raffle tickets were being sold for $1 each.  Donna Raines, spokesperson for the event said, "I don't have the exact amount from the school, but I believe it was slightly over $4,000 (raised).  Thanks for helping us get the word out."  The Harman's were amazed and thrilled at the turnout.  Brian Harman, Chance's father, stated, "I don't know how we'll ever be able to thank everyone."  A list of the items that were raffled are shown below. 

Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center - 1 night's stay with breakfast for 2
Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center - Dinner for 2
Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center - 1 night's stay with breakfast for 2
Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center – Dinner for 2
Basketball signed by VT women's basketball team
VT men's basketball t-shirt and polo shirt
Football autographed by Frank Beamer
$20 gift certificates to Beamer's
(2) $35 gift certificates to Snappy Lube
Chair by Rowe Furniture
$10 gift certificates to Hale's Restaurant
$25 gift certificate to Home Depot
Black and Decker drill from Lowe's
Lamp from Grand Furniture
$10 gift certificate to Ruby Tuesday's
two-lunch combos from Subway of Ironto
Ginger's Jewelry  
Ruby Stone and 1/2 off mounting certificate
Big Spring Mill - Bag of Dog Food
four-lunch combos from Subway of Floyd 
Poor Billy's Poor Billy's (2)
$50 gift certificates
Roanoke College - Men's Basketball Team Autographed Basketball & Autographed Jersey

Tractor Supply Company (2) Drill with Drill bit Sets
Sunset Deli Mart of Eliston $40 gas card
Shawnee Mini Mart of Elliston (item unknown)

Advance Auto -   Screw driver set
Ponnie's Boutique -
H and-Made Pink Silk Purse, Figurine - Heart of Gold, Figurine - Hope, Virginia Tech Tumbler
Electrical Supply - Ceiling Fan, Sports Lamp

January 12, 2007
Community pulls together
Community pulls together
Hundreds attend Monday night prayer vigil for boys

Wanda Combs
The Floyd Press
Thursday, January 11, 2007

It’s a story with heartbreak and hope. Two young boys, Joshua Cantrell and Chance Harman, have both undergone surgery for what is believed to be the same type of rare brain tumor and are now facing treatments. The Floyd community has embraced them and is giving them all their love and prayers.

On Monday night, hundreds of people attended a community prayer vigil at the high school. As they filed into the gymnasium, they paused at tables in the lobby to sign posters for Joshua and Chance and to drop money into jars for them. It was appropriate that the vigil be held in the gymnasium, where the boys are well-known. Their fathers, Brian Harman and Travis Cantrell, and one’s grandfather, Alan Cantrell, coach basketball there, and Joshua, age 3, and Chance, age 4, go to the games, where they have become acquainted with the players and fans.

Rev. Mike Varner, pastor of Topeco Church of the Brethren, led the vigil and noted how the community was come to “pull together” for the boys, and along with prayers and scripture readings, there was music. “Someone’s Praying For You, sung by Ashlee Blankenship was followed by “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” and “Jesus Loves You,” sung by all and led by Ashlee, her brother Josh and local sheriff’s investigator Jeff Dalton.

Many citizens came to the middle of the gym floor and got down on their knees to pray for the boys and put carnations on a cross.

The vigil then continued outside where citizens joined in a circle with lighted candles around the football field.

Jessica Hylton Warren began organizing the event only the day before, said the school’s principal Barry Hollandsworth. Hollandsworth estimated 750-800 people attended. He said the response was “an indication of the Floyd County community. When someone’s in need, they step forward and help out.”

On Wednesday a Floyd County Day of Prayer was proclaimed for citizens to remember Joshua and Chance and other local children facing serious illness.

Ninety-five percent of Joshua’s brain tumor was removed in emergency surgery at Roanoke Memorial Hospital on December 29. Chance underwent surgery January 3 at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, and about half of his tumor was removed. Chance also has other tumors. Joshua and Chance will now begin treatment at Duke.

Fundraising efforts for the boys’ medical expenses have already begun. Giles County High School was to have a benefit spaghetti dinner for Joshua and Chance on Wednesday (January 10), when the boys’ team from FCHS was to play there. Roger Hollandsworth of Floyd Xpress said the FCHS team, cheerleaders and spectators were expected to attend.

Jennifer Slaughter of Slaughters’ Supermarket is also coordinating a bracelet fund drive. Businesses will pay for the cost of the bracelets in order that all of the profits go to the boys. The silicone bracelets will be sharkskin gray, the color symbolizing brain tumors. The bracelets will also include pictures of Chance and Joshua with a heart shape and the message “Sharing Hope”. There will be a suggested donation of $5.00 each, and the bracelets will be available at basketball games and probably other local businesses. Slaughter said if the bracelets arrive in time, they will be available Friday night at the basketball game.

Pat Vaughn, a friend of the families, is also helping to coordinate fundraising efforts. The fund drive – Same Fight – has been set up through Medical Charities of Floyd County and people wishing to make contributions may send checks to Medical Charities of Floyd County, Same Fight, 100 East Main Street, Floyd, VA 24091. All donations are tax-deductible.

Vaughn said other fundraisers with music and sports themes are being planned. Citizens (telephone cooperative) in Floyd is sponsoring a web site – – and is handling the design and posting on that site.

A fundraising meeting has been set for tonight (Thursday) at the high school library at 7:30. Anyone interested in helping with fundraising for the boys and their families is asked to attend.

Vaughn said the web site will enable the family to keep in touch with the community through blogs, where the parents can make notes about how the boys are doing. Local residents will also be able to send their messages to the parents through the site. Fund drive coordinators expect to use the site as well.

“We are looking for a donation of two lap tops,” Vaughn said, “one for each family, to use for internet access to email, respond to people and look for things….” Vaughan explained that the laptops can be used by the parents at the hospital to research medical terms or other information.

With the web site, information about the boys will be as up to date as possible, she added, “People hear (things), and they don’t know. The web site will give you a complete status all the time.”

Vaughn, who has been with Chance’s family – parents Brian and Desirae Harman and his grandparents, Allen and Anne Harman and Ray and Becky Goff, at the hospital in Norfolk, said, “Prayer is what has sustained them. They have put all their faith in God.”

She added that the family’s “faith has grown exponentially. One of the things that the family has said over and over again is ‘every minute is a miracle and we thank God for miracles’.”

January 12, 2007
Giles Opens Hearts And Wallets
By Scott Lawrence   

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Giles held a benefit dinner for Chance Harman and Joshua Cantrell last night in Pearisburg before the boys basketball game with Floyd. At halftime of the game, Giles Principal Greg Brown presented Floyd County Superintendent Dr. Terry Arbogast with the sum of $6,300 for expenses related to the treatment of the two youngsters.


Chance, the four year old son of Floyd boys coach Brian Harman and Joshua, the three year old grandson of Floyd girls coach Alan Cantrell and the son of Assistant Travis Cantrell were both diagnosed with a form of brain cancer this past December.  Chance is in Duke University Medical Center as we speak as his doctors and family are determining a course of treatment, which could begin as early as this weekend. A website, is being established and may be online tomorrow.



Donations are being accepted at Medical Charities of Floyd in one of three ways. One is for Chance only. Another is for Joshua only. And the final way is to donate to a fund that will be split evenly between the boys.  The address for donations is as follows:

Medical Charities of Floyd

100 E. Main Street
Floyd, VA 24091

We at continue to pray for the speedy recovery of Chance and Joshua and also for their families as they go through this tough time in battling this evil disease. Cancer has affected us all at some point in our lives so if you can help out in any way possible please remember Joshua and Chance and keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

January 11, 2007
2 young patients get same Duke doctor

From the Roanoke Times

A candlelight vigil, Web site and day of prayer are some of the outlets the community has to support the boys.

By Jared Turner

Gene Dalton | The Roanoke Times

People line up to place candles in a cross on the Floyd County High School track during a candlelight vigil for two boys diagnosed with brain tumors. The children have ties to the high schools basketball program.


Gene Dalton | The Roanoke Times

People pray on the Floyd High basketball court for the son and grandson of Floyd's basketball coaches. The 3- and 4-year-olds have brain tumors and will be treated by the same physician at the Duke cancer center.

Already linked in their eerily timed battle against brain cancer, the grandson of Floyd County High School girls' basketball coach Alan Cantrell and the son of Floyd boys' basketball coach Brian Harman will be treated by the same physician at Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Three-year-old Joshua Cantrell, who underwent emergency surgery at Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital on Dec. 29 to remove a malignant tumor on his brain, will be admitted to Duke today for further treatment and evaluation, said the school's athletic director, Clay Moran.

Joshua will be joined at Duke on Thursday by 4-year-old Chance Harman, who will begin radiation as early as this weekend for two malignant brain tumors and two more on the spine. 

"We're probably going to stay for a pretty long time," Brian Harman said.

The reunion marks the latest chapter in a series of strange coincidences that began over the Christmas holiday for the two boys whose families have known each other for more than a decade and have extended ties to the Floyd County basketball program and community.

Brian Harman, a former assistant coach under Cantrell, took a leave of absence from his coaching responsibilities in mid-December after learning of his son's brain tumors. Further tests persuaded the Harmans to take Chance to Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk. It was about the same time that Joshua began vomiting and suffering from headaches. A CAT scan later showed a spot on his brain.

Alan Cantrell, his wife, Gayle, their son Travis and wife Laura took Joshua to Carilion in Roanoke, where doctors believe they removed 90 percent to 95 percent of the tumor. Physicians took out only about 50 percent of the larger of Chance's two brain tumors. Joshua returned home Wednesday; Chance on Monday. All signs point to Chance's tumor being an atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor, known as an ATRT. Indications are that Joshua may have the same.

"If it's not that, it's very similar," Harman said.

An ATRT is a rare tumor found most commonly in children younger than 2 years old and located in the cerebellum -- the lower, back portion of the brain that controls balance. Children age 3 or older have a survival rate of about 70 percent when treated with chemotherapy and radiation following surgery. The survival rate for children younger than 3 is less than 10 percent.

"They've made some huge jumps here lately by doing radiation first," Harman said. "That's what we're holding to."

Joshua (left) and Chance (right) -- are battling brain tumors.

Meanwhile, back in Floyd, friends continue to rally behind both families after Harman and Cantrell praised the community last week for their outpouring of support.

Monday night at the high school, between 500 and 600 people attended a candlelight vigil in honor of both boys at Floyd County High School's track.

Friends of the Harmans and Cantrells are asking churches in the Floyd community to open their doors to the public Wednesday for what is being called the "Floyd County Day of Prayer." That night at Giles High School, money raised at a spaghetti dinner benefit sponsored by the Giles varsity and junior varsity boys' basketball teams will go to the Harman and Cantrell families, as will proceeds from concessions at the remaining Floyd County basketball games this season.

"These families have affected in a positive manner so many people through school and through sports," said Patricia Vaughn, a friend of the families. "There's been such an outpouring of people that just want to know. They want to know where to pray, where can I send something, how can I donate, what can I do? The outpouring from the community has been incredible."

A new Web site, , will be launched in the next few days and will feature updates on Joshua's and Chance's conditions.

"No matter how this turns out, people's lives have been affected for the better," Vaughn said.

January 11, 2007
Two children in same county fight same rare cancer
8, 2007

Monday nights vigil

Two small children from Floyd County are battling the same rare form of cancer. Both childrenæhave had surgery. The two are expected to travel to Duke on Tuesday for treatment.

Three-year-old Joshua Cantrell and four-year-old Chance Harman are both battling a rare brain tumor.æApparently, only about sixty people in the county are affected each year.æ Both children are tied to the game of basketball.

Josh's grandfather and father coach the girl's basketball team at Floyd County High School. Chance's father is the coach of the boy's team. The players on both teams have dedicated their season to the two boys.

Monday nights vigil is just the beginning.æ In the coming weeks, a number of fundraising eventsæare planned. A spaghetti dinner will be held this Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Giles County High School. It cost $5.

January 11, 2007
Two families in the same fight against tumors

Friday, January 5, 2007
The Roanoke Times

Two families -- already knitted together through their ties to basketball and Floyd County High School -- have discovered their children are battling brain tumors.

By Jared Turner

Joshua (left) and Chance (right) -- are battling brain tumors.

The call came about 9 p.m. on the Thursday after Christmas.

Floyd County High School girls' basketball coach Alan Cantrell and his wife, Gayle, listened anxiously on speaker phone when they heard the familiar voice of their son, Travis.

They found a spot, Alan Cantrell remembers his son and assistant coach telling them. This was the result of a CAT scan on their 3-year-old grandson Joshua Cantrell.

The Cantrells couldn't help but think of the two spots discovered on Floyd County boys' basketball coach Brian Harman's son days earlier.

The spots on Chance Harman's brain were malignant, an MRI had revealed.

Alan and Gayle Cantrell raced for Carilion New River Valley Medical Center. Joshua was transported in an ambulance to Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital the same night. His grandparents drove behind.

More bad news came the next morning.

"The next thing we know, the words 'tumor,' 'MRI' and 'surgery' were coming out of people's mouths," Alan Cantrell said.

An MRI indicated the spot on Joshua's brain was a tumor, requiring emergency surgery. On Dec. 29, a day after arriving in Roanoke and the same day the undefeated Floyd County girls were to play Christiansburg, Joshua went into surgery. School officials canceled the game so the Cantrells could be with Travis, his wife, Laura, and their daughter Melissa, who came in from Louisville, Ky.

Coincidentally, Joshua's surgeon had been scheduled to operate on 4-year-old Chance the same day.

The Harmans had a bit more time to prepare. Brian Harman took a leave of absence from his coaching duties in mid-December when tests revealed the two brain tumors. More tests indicated two more tumors on Chance's spine. The Harmans moved the surgery to Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, rather than Carilion, and went to Norfolk on New Year's Day. He underwent surgery Wednesday.

Two families -- already knitted together through their ties to basketball and Floyd County High School -- were suddenly facing an eerily similar fight.

"One, you're in shock," said Floyd County Athletic Director Clay Moran. "Then, when you have two in that short of time, you don't know how to describe it. It's freakish."

Or as Harman put it: "Beyond rare."

Strong ties
Alan Cantrell has coached and taught at Floyd County for 23 years and won three basketball state titles. Brian Harman was an assistant coach under Cantrell on the boys' and girls' basketball teams. Travis Cantrell and Brian Harman played on the same team for Alan Cantrell in 1995. Harman took over the boys' job when the girls' and boys' seasons overlapped. Travis Cantrell moved his family back to the area last summer. He became his father's assistant.

These days, the Harmans and Cantrells live about 15 minutes apart in Floyd County. Cantrell called Harman the Wednesday after Christmas.

"I said, 'Brian, words can't describe how we feel, and I can't imagine what you're going though,' " Cantrell said. "Within hours it happened to our family."

A week earlier, Joshua had begun vomiting and complaining of a headache. The Cantrells hoped it was no more than a common stomach virus. When Joshua didn't improve, his parents took him to the emergency room at the New River medical center. Alan Cantrell left Roanoke Carilion and held basketball practice in Floyd on Monday after a conversation with Travis convinced him he should be on the sidelines for Floyd's game with Radford the next day.

"When this happened with Brian's son, the cheerleaders made a little sign to put up in the gym there on the wall, 'We love Chance.' I go in Monday to practice and there's a sign saying, 'We love Joshua,' " said Cantrell, fighting back tears. "It's like a bad dream. You feel three feelings: Either you're numb or you're really angry or you're really sad."

Unwavering support
Cards, phone calls and text messages have poured in from the time both boys were hospitalized. Concern led a group of students and faculty members to hold a special prayer around the flagpole one morning.

Chance received autographed cards from NASCAR drivers Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer of Richard Childress Racing. Alan Cantrell has received offers from people offering to feed some horses he trains. Even those outside of family and the Floyd community have provided support.

"The worst things happen to the best people," said Giles boys' basketball coach Mitch Reed, who once coached alongside Harman in Floyd County. "That's a perfect example. I just can't imagine. My son's 3. It just tears me up when he has a stomach bug."

Sunday night the entire Floyd girls' team visited Joshua in the hospital. Then on Tuesday, with Melissa Cantrell beside her father on the bench as a temporary replacement for her brother, Floyd County obliterated Radford 90-56. Every Buffalo scored, heavy hearts notwithstanding.

"Joshua, he's such a cute little kid," said center Adrienne Womack. "He's well-known with the team. ... You would hate for that to happen to anybody, but coach, he's like a father to us. To see him down brings the team down. ... It's just the time for the team to come closer together."

Cantrell praised his players.

"Everybody wants to try to do something. ... 'Can we help out with food, money, cards or flowers?' " Cantrell said on Wednesday. "These kids, they don't have outlets like that. Last night was their way of showing, 'This is how much we care.' I told them after the game when we walked into the locker room that was probably the best medicine I could get."

Looking ahead
Joshua went home Wednesday after surgeons removed 95 percent of his tumor. Joshua is meeting with an oncologist today in Roanoke, and may go to Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center or St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis next, according to Gayle Cantrell.

Chance may have more of an uphill battle. The surgery removed about 50 percent of the big tumor on his brain. Harman said his faith has sustained him.

"I don't know why it's happening. It's happening for a reason. We're going to get through it good or bad," Harman said. "We're all going to win out of this."

Cantrell said his priorities have changed.

"I've got sometimes pretty, I guess, thick skin or rough exterior sometimes about things. I'd sit at the house, and the phone would ring and I wouldn't answer it sometimes," Cantrell said. "Since this has happened, if I get to the phone, I'm answering it. I want people to know these boys' story. Everybody that I see that I know that has children or grandchildren, I want them to hug them a little bit more and don't take things for granted.

"... Whatever I can do to make something good come out of this I want to do."

c/o CW Harman & Son, 2894 Floyd Hwy S, Floyd, VA 24091 •
© Copyright 2007