30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2023
I think back to the day when Bryce was in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) in March of 2015, recovering from his brain surgeries. I remember the nurse telling us that there will be light at the end of this tunnel. We searched for this light every day for months until the day came when Bryce was officially in recovery. We thought, “This is it. This is the light!”
Like a bad dream, he relapsed, and we had to start all over again. Searching, hoping, and praying for another light at the end of the tunnel is all we could do. He had to endure many more rounds of chemotherapy and proton radiation. We kept thinking, “how are we possibly going to make it through this again?” Bryce spent two more years going through treatments. There was a sense of relief finally, but there was still an underlying fear of what comes next. How do we proceed forward into our new “normal” after finally winning this battle? It was scary to wonder what our new “normal” might look like.
Now here we are with our new life after his diagnosis. Bryce may not have cancer or daily trips to the oncology floor, but he has new challenges to face because of the side effects from his intense treatments. These harsh procedures did save his life, but they also altered how Bryce would learn and move forward in the world.
We see Bryce as a healthy 10 year-old boy. People often view him as being younger because of his size. Proton radiation stopped him from growing. People will ask how old he is, and when I tell them they say, “Wow he can’t be 10.” I respond, “He may be small, but he is mighty.” If they only knew how much Bryce has gone through in his short life.
After much consideration, we consulted with an endocrinologist, and he just started growth hormone shots. These are daily shots that will be given to him for several years to get him to a reasonable height. No, he will not be 6’2” like he was projected to be before he got sick.
He continually works with occupational, speech, and food therapists. These setbacks may be from the disease itself or side effects from years of treatment. Nonetheless, he is resilient, and he has made considerable progress since ending his treatments in November 2019.
Despite working endlessly to move forward, we still worry, especially when that 6-month MRI comes around. We know what it feels like to hear those words, not once but twice, “your child has cancer.” The silver lining to this story is we learned to enjoy each and every day and to just live in the moment.
Just because the treatments are over does not mean the fight is over. There are always new challenges to face, but these kids are tough! We are so grateful to have the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley and Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital. We have formed strong relationships with other families that have gone through, and are still going through, the same struggles as our family. We are here to say that we see you and you are not alone. Thank you, PCFLV for embracing “the pediatric cancer journey alongside children and their families, moving forward as a community with love, hope and smiles.“
Written by Bryce’s mom, Kristen
Please consider helping children with cancer and others in our community by scheduling a blood donation at Miller-Keystone Blood Center: https://donor.giveapint.org/donor/schedules/zip