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USC Norris cancer patient spurred to fight on by Spirit of Troy

The USC Trojan Marching Band brightens the day of a big-time booster

Football booster Russ Enyeart
Cancer patient Russ Enyeart, center, enjoys a surprise party after his final radiation treatment. (Photo/Agustin Mares)

For his last radiation treatment, Russ Enyeart’s doctor told him she wasn’t going to be able to keep his usual 1:30 appointment time and had to push it back to 5 p.m. She was bending the truth.

Leslie Ballas, assistant professor of clinical radiation oncology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, was really helping Enyeart’s wife throw a surprise for her husband’s final prostate cancer treatment. Mary Jo Enyeart had arranged for the USC Trojan Marching Band to play for him as he left USC Norris Cancer Hospital, where had been receiving treatment since May 15.

“I was completely shocked and astounded,” said Russ Enyeart, a police detective who had no idea a surprise was brewing. “I heard ‘Fight On’ and I thought it was a recording until I saw them. I was blown away.”

It was a fitting celebration for Enyeart, a longtime USC football fan who, along with his wife, is a member of the Cardinal & Gold athletic support group. But getting the Spirit of Troy to play him a rousing fight song to celebrate the end of his treatment took a lot of coordination.

Ballas wasn’t the only member of Keck Medical Center of USC’s staff who helped hi wife pull off her surprise. Nikos Carli, senior clinical administrator in the Department of Radiation Oncology, hid the detective’s friends and family in the hospital where he would not see them. Carli also had to sneak the band into the hospital under the patient’s nose.

Enyeart is no longer just a USC football fan. He is also a booster of Keck Medical Center of USC. His wife had been a patient at Keck Hospital of USC more than a dozen years before, and they were impressed with the medical staff.

And even though Enyeart admits he dreaded radiation treatment, he knew he was going to be treated well at the Norris Cancer Hospital.

“I will tell anyone the level of care is unequaled,” he said. “Dr. Ballas was phenomenal and everyone who works there — the techs, nurses, custodial staff — was caring and kind.”

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USC Norris cancer patient spurred to fight on by Spirit of Troy

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