SALEM, Ind. — Salem High School lost two staff members to cancer in a single week this past November. On Friday, a student facing that familiar battle was crowned homecoming king.
"I was diagnosed six days after my 18th birthday," Konnar Anderson said. The Salem senior has a rare form of Rhabdomyosarcoma.
According to Konnar's Go Fund Me, "His primary tumor is in the left side of his pelvis, and the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the pelvis, two vertebrae, a small spot on his skull, and a few small nodules in his lungs."
"It's uh very aggressive and it's very hard to treat," Konnar told WHAS11 News, sitting in the school library. He's finished his coursework for the year but still comes by to see his friends and teachers. Though, he said, they're more like a family.
The Salem Lions take pride in their pack.
"I've gotten so many letters, I've gotten so many cards. It's truly terrific what some people can do," Konnar said.
"He's such a good guy," Averie Cockerill said. "I think all of us here at the high school were rooting for him to win." The Homecoming Queen pointed out she was more excited for Konnar to get the crown than she was for herself. "I was definitely more excited for Konnar," she said.
Konnar put it more simply, "it was pretty cool."
The celebration offered a contrast to what Principal Troy Albert described as a pretty difficult time for the school. Special education teacher Marjorie Elliott and "Voice of the Lions" Derek Smith both died in November of 2021. The months since held a lot of grief.
Albert said they're finding joy in helping students and helping each other.
"These people just want to help each other and support each other through the good times and the bad times."
Hopefully, there will be more good than bad days ahead.
As the seniors look toward prom and eventually graduation, Konnar said, "I know that I am definitely going to shed some tears when they walk out on that stage and as soon as I get to walk out with them too."
For now, they'll save the tears, and cheer on their newest king.