A patrol deputy who went back to the streets after being told he had only two years to live was honored Monday with a flag presented by Congressman Garrett Graves.

Robert Cannon, now an East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy, was diagnosed with myelodysplasia in late 2015. It's the type of cancer caused by a stomach tumor and is related to pancreatic cancer, Cannon said. 

Doctors told Cannon he’d never work again, but by the next summer he was back on the job with Port Allen Police Department continuing his decades-long police career.

He never underwent treatment or surgery, and the cancer essentially went away on its own, Cannon said. He describes it as one of “life’s little miracles.”


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Graves, who commended Cannon’s dedication and commitment to public service in the face of adversity, presented Cannon with a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol in December.

Cannon's mom, Julie Christian, spoke from a group of roughly two dozen supporters for the presentation Monday: "Three years ago we thought we were going to lose him, and we prayed and worked hard with him and then he's back on the police department. … I thought he was going to get a desk job or something but, no, he wanted to get out there and I said, 'Okay, do what you have to do, son.'"

Cannon had previously been recognized during his time in Port Allen with a valor pin from Chief Esdron Brown in 2016 for two life-saving efforts while off-duty: pulling an elderly lady from an overturned truck and the other was saving a man from an SUV that had plunged into Bayou Chevreuil in Lafourche Parish.

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Family gather for a picture during a flag presentation for Robert L. Cannon Jr., center back, given by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, second from left back, Monday Feb. 18, 2019, Baton Rouge, La. Cannon is the former Port Allen Police Department officer who, while off duty, rescued a man from a car that crashed in a bayou. From left front row, Pat Gugliuzza, Linda Sukman, Ashton Cannon, holding documentation, Sue Denham and Julie Christian. From left, back row, Conor Cannon, U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, Robert L. Cannon Jr., Suzi Cannon and Brenan Cannon.

The Port Allen City Council voted that week to declare Aug. 16, 2016 as “Officer Robert Cannon Day” in honor of his efforts.

Cannon left Port Allen police in April 2017, and has since filed a civil lawsuit against the agency claiming Brown used religion to bolster promotions and make work decisions. That suit is ongoing.

He said his son, 19-year-old Conor Cannon, has completed his police academy training and is preparing applications to join an area police agency to continue the family's public service legacy.


Follow Emma Kennedy on Twitter, @byemmakennedy.