After suffering a lung collapse, senior Caleb Canatoy is inspired to pursue nursing


Dani Fischer

Senior Caleb Canatoy leads the pack during a boys Cross Country practice. Despite having his lung collapse last spring, Canatoy is a captain on the Varsity team and hopes to inspire young runners in the same way alumnus Jacob Cupps did for him. “My freshman year we had Jacob Cupps as a captain and he was also going through an injury, but it was cool how he had a connection to the freshmen,” Canatoy said.

During the spring of 2018, senior Caleb Canatoy woke up one morning to a sharp pain in his back.

“It was just a really normal day…my mom thought it was just muscle cramps,” Canatoy said. “But then it progressed and I couldn’t breathe.”

Canatoy’s parents took him to the hospital where he discovered one of his lungs had collapsed, which is not uncommon for tall people with little body fat similar to himself. A tube was inserted into his lung to provide oxygen flow and drain fluid.

“The tube hurt so bad. They [tested] how many milliliters of air I could take in every single hour. [The doctors] said there’s a 50-50 chance it will happen to me again,” Canatoy said.

After a week-long stay at the hospital, Canatoy had to return to school where everyone was already preparing for final exams.

“It was okay [getting back into school],” Canatoy said. “Chemistry was the worst because they started a new unit and I was so lost.”

Canatoy was a member of boy’s cross country and boy’s track and field. His collapsed lung hindered his training ability and ended his track season abruptly.

“I had to wait four weeks [after being released from the hospital] before I could start running again and then I did it lap by lap,” Canatoy said. “It was really slow and boring, but really hard. I was dead after one lap.”

Canatoy’s distances increased over the summer as he trained with fellow cross country members to get in shape for the fall season.

“I made it to four [miles] just the other day,” Canatoy said. “It’s easy when you’re in a group to push yourself, but on my own it’s really bad; I struggle to finish three [miles], it’s just a mental thing.”

Even though Canatoy’s lung is healed, he does not expect to return to running with the same vigor as before.

Everyone came to help and support me and that was awesome. It made me want to help people.”

— Caleb Canatoy

“I don’t think I’m going to be very competitive for the next season, I think there’s always going to be some pain. Even now it hurts, so I just can’t see myself racing,” Canatoy said. 

But, having already been voted team captain for this upcoming cross country season, Canatoy plans on helping the team by being a friendly, welcoming presence for the freshmen runners.

“My freshman year we had Jacob Cupps as a captain and he was also going through an injury, but it was cool how he had a connection to the freshmen,” Canatoy said. “It would be worth running JV just to spend time with them.”

A new outlook on his role on the cross country team is not the only change to Canatoy’s life due to his lung collapsing. He was inspired by his nurses during his stay in the hospital to pursue nursing as a career, and now volunteers at Missouri Baptist hospital three times a week.

“The nurses at Children’s Hospital [inspired me],” Canatoy said. “One nurse told me she was pursuing business, but decided she wanted to help people instead of trick them.”

Despite the changes and constant pain brought on by this event, Canatoy remains optimistic about his new roles.

“Everyone came to help and support me and that was awesome,” Canatoy said. “It made me want to help people.”