Kenny Capps wages war against cancer
Kenny Capps was glad to be home last Thursday, having spent nearly a week in Atlanta having stem cells harvested for a bone marrow transplant this month.
Capps, a 44-year-old Black Mountain native, is fighting multiple myeloma, an aggressive bone cancer. A dad, son, husband, marathon runner, local business owner and a friend to many is waging one of the toughest battles of his life. Friends are holding a benefit for him at White Horse Black Mountain on Aug. 13 to help with his medical expenses.
Capps and his wife Murphy, who he married in 2013, own Kudzu Printing Company in Black Mountain, a partner company to Kudzu Branding Company. The couple brought their blended family to Black Mountain and became active members of the community. They have three children, Maggie, 11, Carter, 14, and Georgia, 2.
“The past six months, since Kenny was diagnosed, have been scary for us,” Murphy said in a recent interview.
Capps was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in February 2014 and began treatment in March. Last week he was at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta having stem cells harvested in preparation of the transplant this month.
Two years ago, Capps went to the doctor because he felt tired. The doctor found he was anemic and gave him iron pills. Ocular migraine headaches and dizziness followed, and more blood tests were run. The doctor referred him to a specialist in Asheville.
“Kenny called me from the parking lot saying he was sitting in front of an oncologist office,” Murphy said. “I told him to see what the doctor said, and that it was probably just a precaution. I was so mad at myself because we had just canceled our health insurance because we are young and healthy, and it was too expensive.
“The next phone call from Kenny was telling me he was on his way to Mission Hospital to have a bone biopsy. I told him to not let them do a lot of unnecessary tests since we didn’t have insurance. He said the doctor thought this test was really necessary. I didn’t realize something serious was wrong with Kenny.”
Capps went to Duke University Hospital to confirm the diagnosis and then onto Emory University Hospital, where he is being treated by a specialist who has had an 80 to 90 percent remission rate with multiple myeloma.
“Recently Emory harvested enough stem cells to do at least three bone marrow transplants if needed,” Murphy said. “The disease is not curable, but it is treatable and manageable. Ten years ago, Kenny’s diagnosis would have been a death sentence.
“He is facing four to six cycles of chemo treatments, steroid treatment which make him sleepless for days, and then the bone marrow transplant. He will have to stay in the hospital for 30 days after the bone marrow procedure, and then remain close to Emory for another 60-plus days. He can’t even see the kids because his immune system will be so depleted.”
Murphy will stay with her husband for the first week after the bone marrow transplant and then will return to Black Mountain to care for the children and run the Cappses’ two businesses. Family members and friends will stay with Capps at Emory.
Friends are coming together on Thursday to put on a benefit for Capps at White Horse Black Mountain. David LaMotte, an international singer/songwriter who has known Capps for 25 years, is heading the “Benny for Kenny” concert. They met while holding summer jobs in Montreat.
Capps is “a remarkable person who is friendly and kind,” LaMotte said. “He has a terrific sense of humor even during these hard times of tests and treatments. He has powerful courage. Kenny is a wonderful dad to his children.
“Although my plate is pretty full with work right now, doing something for Kenny and his family that will really help them is important to me. I can’t do the work I’m doing in the world if I don’t stop and help a friend. How can we love each other better and be in community if we don’t help each other? This benefit is very important to me. Kenny is a good man, and a good friend. With his attitude, he will make it through this.”
The “Benny for Kenny” benefit concert Thursday at the White Horse Black Mountain combines LaMotte’s talents with those of B.J. Leiderman; Karl Werne, a Virginia Beach-based songwriter; and well-known WNC poet Barbie Angell, who will emcee the concert and share her poetry.
Murphy said her husband is honored to have the upcoming benefit done for him by his friends.
Kenny’s step-daughter, Maggie, has a surprise planned for him. “This is just not fair,” she said through tears. “He is such a sweet guy, and he treats me like I am his own daughter. I just want him to get well.”
Peter Ripmaster, an ultra-marathon runner and one of Capps’ friends, said Capps is a special person who reaches out to help others and never wants anything back in return.
“I support him 1,000 times over in this battle with bone cancer,” Ripmaster said. “I have history with the disease, having lost my mother and father to cancer. What has happened to Kenny makes all us not take life so much for granted.”
The money raised from the benefit will help pay medical bills and expenses while Capps is being treated at Emory University Hospital. Friends of the Capps family have set up a GoFundMe account (gofundme.com/kennycapps) so that folks who can’t come to the benefit can still donate. “This is a story of a family and a community pulling together to support that family,” Don Talley, White Horse Black Mountain manager, said.
Benny for Kenny
What: Benefit for Kenny Capps
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 13
Where: White Horse Black Mountain
Tickets: $22 advance, $25 door