Larry Carney has been coaching girl’s and women’s basketball on the Central Coast for nearly 30 years, including the last six as an assistant coach at Allan Hancock College. In 2015, the college chose to honor the coaching legend for his accomplishments on the court and his inspirational battle off the court. The college renamed the national Coaches vs. Cancer event it hosted every year to Carney’s Coaches vs. Cancer event. Carney is a four-time cancer survivor, who lost his father, mother, and younger brother to the disease.
“I was embarrassed at first because so many other people are worse off than me. But it’s still very overwhelming and humbling to this day,” said Carney. “I hope the community will support the fight thousands of others in the community and myself face every day.”
Carney was first diagnosed with prostate cancer when he was 49-years-old. Seven years after beating cancer, the disease returned in his abdomen. Treatment included a stop in the Netherlands for an innovative scan that led to pinpoint radiation treatment. Cancer returned a third time a few years ago, and a fourth time just a few months ago. He is still receiving treatment, all the while maintaining a positive attitude and inspiring student-athletes, staff, and faculty at Hancock.
As if his battles were not trying enough, Carney’s father, Lawrence, died from prostate cancer about 30 years ago. In January 2015, he lost his mother, Roma Jean, to cancer. His younger brother, Timothy, lost his battle with brain cancer the following week. After losing his mother and brother within a week of each other, Carney donated $5,000 to Marian Medical Center’s Mission Hope Cancer Center in their memory. Mission Hope provides invaluable support and program services to patients and families who utilize the center’s medical services.
“I grew up in Santa Maria. I want to keep the money local to help people in my hometown who are fighting cancer,” said Carney, who has donated more than $6,000 in the last two years. “My brother and many of my friends have received help from the Mission Hope Cancer Center. I want to make sure people in town who need assistance receive it.”
The college will host the third annual Carney’s Coaches vs. Cancer event on Wednesday, February 8, when the basketball teams host Moorpark in conference games. The men will play at 5 p.m. and the women to follow at 7 p.m. inside Joe White Memorial Gymnasium. A special ceremony will take place during halftime of the men’s game when Carney, Hancock Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers, Ph.D., and others will present a check to the Marian Medical Center’s Mission Hope Cancer Center.
The college has launched a social media campaign to encourage others to join its fight to find a cure for a cancer. People can donate directly to the Carney’s Coaches vs. Cancer fund at crowdfunding.hancockcollege.edu . Donations can be made online through Monday, February 13. All donations will go directly to the Mission Hope Cancer Center. Donations will also be collected during the event on Feb. 8.
Many wonder how the 72-year-old can undergo treatment and spend several hours a day as an assistant coach of the women’s basketball team. He says basketball has been a saving grace.
“A year ago, I could barely climb a flight of stairs. Today, I feel better than I have in years. My basketball family at the college and in the community played a big part in that,” he said. “The gymnasium is my salvation. I go in there and forget about the outside world. I’m there helping our student-athletes and teaching the game I love.”
Carney is proud to provide a voice to others battling cancer.
“Find something to keep you busy and keep your mind off of it,” said Carney. “I truly believe there is going to be a cure for cancer one day, and I can’t wait to see it happen.”
On top of inspiring and encouraging people battling cancer, Carney hopes to inspire others to join his fight to find a cure.