Every rider in the pits has a story to tell. Some have it harder than others and some are so incredibly heroic that you wish you could put them on for the entire world to see. Lucky for you Troy Dog’s Shack is thriving, so this week I want to introduce you to a friend of vurbmoto: Camron “Camo” Mitchell.
I have never met Camo face to face, but I remember hearing his name at the amateur nationals back in the day and watching him rip on a 65cc. At this year’s Daytona SX, Camron made his professional debut on a privateer Yamaha backed by loyal people who give him good vibes.
It sounds like a normal amateur to pro story, doesn’t it? Well, in September of 2019, Camron was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which if left untreated wouldn’t give him much time to live. That is some life changing news for anyone, let alone a 19-year-old kid.
Camron was a staple on the amateur circuit mostly on a 65cc bike. He would rack up a lot of top 5-10 finishes, with the occasional win, but in his mind he flew under the radar because he could never breakout for a title. When Camo was 9 he was diagnosed with Epilepsy, which came with seizures as well as a list of other symptoms that Troy Dog would not wish on his worst enemy. Camron kept racing and pursuing the sport he loved. In 2011 he won the King of the Classic at the Vurb Classic. Our own Chili Dog would bring him in as a Hired Gun at those events a decade ago. They are Georgia brethren after all.
Winning the King of the Classic award meant a lot to Camo and he said it gave him the confidence that he needed to come out of his shell. In 2012 he won a title at Ponca City and then a week later he got hurt at Loretta Lynn’s and a string of injuries would haunt him for a couple years. After Loretta’s in 2014, Camron was burnt out and quit racing.
The desire to pursue racing reignited once Camo was able to drive himself to the races, and for a short period of time it went well, until the injury bug hit again. He persevered and went to live at MTF and that set his plans in motion to turn pro in 2020. In 2019 he moved to the A class and raced the SX Futures, earning himself his SX license and an invite to the Monster Enery Cup.
Camo’s health had been deteriorating for years, and six months before the Monster Energy Cup it had gotten even worse. A lack of appetite, not being able to keep food down, or keeping any interest in his activities led to a 30-pound weight loss before the event. He knew it was his only chance to race Monster Energy Cup but admits now in hindsight that he probably should not have raced. He had had morning sickness for two years straight. He was skin and bones and not physically or mentally ready. Something bad was going on and he knew he needed to seek out the answer. He did have second gate pick to Jett Lawrence that night, to leave it on a high note.
In September of 2019 he saw his neurosurgeon to discuss his MRI. The doctors were not sure what exactly was on his brain, but it was either wait and see or just go ahead and get the problem area removed. Camo chose the latter. He had his Brain Biopsy Surgery on January 17, 2020. Once removed the tumor growth was tested and it came back to be a Grade 2 Astrocytoma. It was located in between his right and frontal lobe, which he says explains why he dealt with seizures, depression, anxiety, and mood swings. The decision to have the surgery early saved his life. He said that had he not got it removed when he did the doctors had given him a few years maximum to live.
Camo got home from the hospital a few days before the pandemic hit. The next six months of recovery were rough with appointments being pushed back as well as isolating himself from the world. He had some dark days as he wondered why all of this had to happen to him. As he healed from his surgery he started to feel better mentally and physically. He said that the best way to describe it would be he saw the world in black and white… but then he saw it in color for the first time.
He took recovery easy at first and then he started hiking, eventually worked his way up to a mountain bike, and when October 2020 rolled around the doctors said the two plates and three screws in his skull were strong enough. He could start riding his dirtbike again.
Camo decided to get back to riding in January, 445 hard days after Monster Energy Cup. He practiced at a local track and he said he felt better than ever before. It was one of the best feelings of his life because he did not think it would ever be possible to ride ever again. He signed up for the Daytona SX just two short months later. He was back to a normal weight and feeling better than he had in years.
Camron not only tried Daytona out, but he also signed up for Atlanta 1 and 2. He said that he owed it to himself if he did not make his pro debut especially after working so hard to get his pro license. He knew he would regret it later if he did not try. To be so close to your dream and then have circumstances out of your control take it away from you would be a bitter pill to swallow. Camo fought through the adversity of the shortened and canceled practices and managed to put in some lap times, drastically improving in Atlanta 2. He proved to himself that he belonged out there, which was his biggest goal.
Six months ago, Cameron’s scans came back completely clean. His cancer was in remission, which meant no chemotherapy treatment. Although this is the best news possible at this moment, Camo will still have to go in and get an MRI every three months as his tumor is the most aggressive kind. His fight will never truly be over.
For now, we all need to center ourselves and realize that people out there are struggling so much more than we know, with way better outlooks and positive feelings on life. My buddy Camo is an inspiration to all, and I thank him for sharing his story with us this week.
Authors Note: Camron has been friends with Eric Grondahl of Alias gear and now CBD. Alias gear is back for just the two of them now. Camron gets to help design the gear as well. Sometime in May, Alias will be dropping a “Gray in May” gear set for brain tumor awareness. So be sure to follow @egrondahl351 and @cmitch910 on Instagram for more details on how you support the cause.
If you want to get in touch with Troy Dog you can email him at email@example.com, whether it be a story idea, to talk about a previous column, or even if it is to say hi. Troy will answer all emails sent. Also be sure to follow @troydogvurb on Instagram and Twitter.
Main image from Camron Mitchell