MIDLOTHIAN — In April 2009, David Milson, Midlothian resident and Cedar Hill High School basketball coach of 23 years, was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, lung cancer. At the age of 16, Milson was treated for Hodgkin’s disease, said his wife, Valree Milson.

“Back in the ’70s, they did radiation and after getting this (diagnosis) we found out that all these problems probably were caused by the radiation he had as a kid. The tumor from the Hodgkin’s was between his left lung and his heart. And where the tumor showed up was in the left lung. He had very little left lung left from radiation from the ’70s,” she said. “That’s what they did back then to keep him alive and we are grateful for that.”

In April, they were told that many people have come down with secondary cancers because of what they did back then, she said.

For two years previous, Milson had a cough and they had gone to many doctors trying to find out what it was.

“We’d seen many, many doctors and had many chest X-rays. When they found it in April and they started looking at the scans they had done the October before, there was something there and they thought it was all just scar tissue,” Valree said. “When they did the biopsy, then it showed up as cancer. But the cancer was so small.”

The couple wanted to return to M.D. Anderson, where David had originally been treated as a young man. Stephanie Kruger with Rexanna’s Foundation put them in touch with the person over the foundation in Houston whose husband knew of Milson and had coached against him.

“They knew David and within a week we had an appointment at M.D. Anderson,” Valree said. “It was in the left lung and in the right lung.”

The doctor recommended a treatment they were able to access at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

Before they were able to start treatment, other health issues arose. He had half his thyroid removed because he had some nodules and they found no cancer in the thyroid. The next week they went in to check his heart for blockage.

“We went in thinking they were going to do two (stents) and they ended up putting in four. We were told it wasn’t cholesterol, it was calcium buildup probably from the radiation – everything leading to what was done on that side,” she said, “so we recovered from the stents.”

Milson was unable to start his cancer treatment, because he was on blood thinners from the heart surgery. It was August before the treatments could begin.

“The doctor kept telling him, ‘You’re going to be here a long time.’ David said, ‘I want to live past September,’ ” she said. “The doctor kept telling him, ‘You’re going to be here forever – the amount of cancer you have is not going to cause your death.’ ”

The retirement plans were already in place before his diagnosis.

“My son graduated. Tanner went to school with David there (Cedar Hill) and (daughter) Rylea goes here (Midlothian High School). If he was going to watch Rylea play and Tanner play, he was going to need to retire. He had retired so he could travel and do those things,” she said, saying David started the chemo and got to fly out to nearly every one of Tanner’s games (at University of North Carolina Wilmington). “And he got to see Rylea play.”

In December, he started retaining fluid and the doctors were unable to find the cause.

“David was feeling good and had been doing everything up until that Monday when I called home and he didn’t answer,” she said. “The only thing we can figure was that the cause of death wasn’t the cancer, it was a blood clot. It happened so quickly that I don’t think he knew. There was no sign that showed he suffered. So it wasn’t the cancer.”

Valree said they became involved with Rexanna’s Foundation in the beginning when they were trying to get David into M.D. Anderson. The foundation approached the family back in September about honoring David in the Run for a Purpose Legacy Run scheduled for March 26, an event to raise awareness and fund sfor lung cancer research.

“Cedar Hill never got to do his retirement because he was sick May and June. David did not feel well,” she said, saying the plan was to have the run and then celebrate his retirement right afterwards. “After he passed away we wanted to continue with it. The research at M.D. Anderson will help someone and that is what we would want.”

The foundation is flying Tanner in from Wilmington so the entire family can participate in the run.

“It happened on the weekend of that snow. It happened on Monday then that snow hit on Tuesday. It is unbelievable the support we have had. I have a stack of cards and they still come every day,” she said. “The kids and I, instead of asking for flowers, we are setting up a scholarship in his name. We will give a scholarship to Midlothian and one to Cedar Hill.”

She said there is already over $5,000 in that fund. Contributions to the fund can be made to David Milson Legacy Scholarship at Citizens National Bank in Midlothian.

The Rexanna’s Foundation for Fighting Lung Cancer “Run for a Purpose Legacy Run” in honor of coach David Milson will be held at Cedar Hill High School on Saturday, March 26. Activities will include a 5K walk/run starting at 9 a.m. and Kids K fun run starting at 8:15 a.m. The event will benefit lung cancer research and raise awareness.

Milson spent 23 successful years coaching basketball at Cedar Hill High School with 676 career wins and two Class 5A state runner-ups in 2004 and 2009. Just weeks after his retirement in April 2010, he was diagnosed with lung cancer despite having never been a smoker and passed away Jan. 31, 2011, at the age of 53.

Join the fun and family activities including a health fair, bounce houses and face painting. Immediately following the 5K, a special dedication ceremony will take place in memory of Milson.

Lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer of men and women in the world. Lung cancer kills more than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney and melanoma cancers combined, Kruger said.

All proceeds from Run for a Purpose Legacy Run go toward community college scholarships for students who have been impacted by cancer and for lung cancer research at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

For details and registration, visit www.runforapurpose.com or e-mail Kruger at krugersk@sbcglobal.net.

Contact Rebecca at Rebecca.hertz@wninews.com or call 469-517-1451.