Although terminal illness tugs at the heartstrings, there’s something beautiful about a person’s ability to overcome their hardships, even if for only a few moments at a time. On September 29th, 2023, a determined father battling cancer, walked his daughter down her high school football field, to be with her when she was crowned Homecoming Queen.
Brett Yancey is 47 and has for several years been battling esophageal cancer. Sadly, the cancer has spread to his lungs and he currently requires breathing assistance. Moreover, Yancey has gone through a series of treatments with little success. Even resorting to “experimental solutions”. However drained as he may be, nothing would stand in the way of him escorting his daughter to be crowned Homecoming Queen.
Walking with a Homecoming Queen
For many, the 50-yard walk down the field would be hardly noticeable. However, for Brett, it took a great deal of strength, all mustered up for the sake of being with Sarakate during such a memorable moment in her life. Brett’s wife, Carrie knew that the 50-yard feat would cause her husband difficulty and suggested he use a golf cart, rather than walk. He refused, determined to walk with pride as his youngest daughter Sarakate would be crowned Homecoming Queen. “I don’t need a golf cart — I’m going to walk my baby to the opposite sideline.” He told his worried wife.
“He was holding my daughter pretty tight, I just kept praying, ‘You can make it, you can make it.'” Carrie disclosed. “Honestly, I could feel my heart beating out my chest. Tears just rolled down my face.” She went on to explain to PEOPLE that Brett hasn’t had the energy to walk from the bed to the bathroom.
Brett walked alongside his daughter, who looked absolutely radiant in her light pink dress, accompanied by a huge smile. Meanwhile, Carrie sat in the bleachers with Sarakate’s sisters, Savanna and Sydney.
Although Brett physically struggled, he and his daughter walked side by side holding one another. When she received the crown for Homecoming Queen, she hugged her father. Who in return, kissed her cheek. “Thank the Lord, he did it,” Carrie said. “I think it was a moment that many will never forget.”
About the Illness
Esophageal cancer is one of the top 10 most deadly cancers, globally. Many factors impact the likelihood for this type of cancer including tobacco or alcohol use, nutritional habits, or obesity. Symptoms range but include severe and worsening indigestion, rapid weight loss, trouble swallowing, chest pain, rapid weight loss, or a bump under the skin on the chest.
Testing can be done by biopsy, chest x-ray, or with the use of an esophagoscope. Resembling a tube, the thin instrument has a light and lens, and may additionally, have a tool for removing tissue samples from within the esophagus. In many cases, the next step after diagnosis is to see whether or not the cancer has spread. There are several ways to test including a CT scan, a PET scan, and a thoracoscope. Similar to the aforementioned, esophagoscope, the thoracoscope is “tube-like” with a light and lens and may also have a tool for removing tissue or parts of the esophagus or a lung.
Parents of the Homecoming Queen
Brett and his wife Carrie have been together for more than 25 years. The pair were high school sweethearts but actually began “dating” in middle school. They eventually married and had 3 beautiful daughters together. He is a former high school football coach. Meanwhile, Carrie is an elementary school principal. Together they have faced numerous challenges, supporting and loving each other every step of the way.
Sadly because of Brett’s rigorous treatment plans, the pair have been less present in their daughter’s lives. “Our community, friends, and family have prayed so hard for our family,” she disclosed. “We missed a lot of our girls’ high school sports and activities, but they have kept the faith. “ However, the love Brett feels for his family is apparent in everything he does. “Brett is so proud of what all of our children stand for, and the young ladies they have become,” Carrie added.
The family from Alabama shared a heartwarming moment, with a stadium full of peers, neighbors, families, and friends. All united in their support for the Homecoming Queen and the obstacles her father overcame to share that special moment with her. The heartwarming, if not also a little bittersweet, moment highlights something truly awe-inspiring. The love and determination felt by a devoted father, his drive to support his daughter as she was crowned Homecoming Queen.
- “Esophageal Cancer.” Mayo Clinic
- “Esophageal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version.” NIH
- “‘Proud’ Dad Doesn’t Let Cancer Stop Him from Escorting Daughter as She’s Crowned Homecoming Queen.” PEOPLE. David Chiu October 10, 2023.
- “Father battling cancer escorts daughter as she wins homecoming queen.” Newsner. Phoebe Egoroff. October 13, 2023
- “Alabama father fighting cancer escorts daughter as she wins homecoming crown.” WVTM. Rick Karle. October 4, 2023.