The first sign something was wrong came on a hot autumn day in 2013. Cannon was at an Atlanta Braves game with his wife, Linda, when, he recalled, “She looked at me and said, ‘Are you OK?’ I was burning up with fever.”
The fever came and went over the next few months, as did a painful, purple rash on his back and legs. “I’d have a flare up, get a little better, and think it was on its way out. Then it would start all over again,” he said.
With each episode, Cannon’s symptoms worsened. His fever climbed, his joints were stiff, he felt sluggish and miserable. Even the bottoms of his feet hurt. One time his hand swelled so much that he went to his local hospital emergency department, where they cut off his rings to restore circulation to his fingers. He was in that hospital for four days until steroid medication relieved the swelling.
The specialists didn’t know what was wrong. After he'd endured a battery of tests and been hospitalized twice, one of his doctors suggested he see a rheumatologist at Duke. He got an appointment in less than a week and headed to Durham.