30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2020
Let’s make this long story short by saying that our journey is now four years in the making. To say life has changed is an understatement. Now this new life is our normal but the normal is not easy. Not only do I worry about Bryce, my cancer kiddo, I worry about others. Your leg is swollen? You just coughed for the past few days? You have a slightly elevated temp? When is a good time to call the doctor? When do I insist on scans? A mother’s intuition is what led us to the discovery of Bryce’s cancer in April of 2016. A persistent cough, loss in appetite and being more tired pushed me to find answers. What we found was not what we wanted. It is not what anyone would want.
At 13, his age when diagnosed, we were not sure if we would see him drive a car, hike at Philmont, become a high school senior, or just enjoy life. We are getting those opportunities and we could not be more thrilled. We are the lucky ones. We may never get to say that Bryce is in remission. He may need constant surgeries or procedures. He will always be sick and in pain. Despite all of that though, we make AMAZING memories in between.
At this point I should divulge what beast we deal with. It is called GIST (Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors). This is a very rare type of cancer that is found to be genetic in our case. To be more specific, Bryce has a strain called SDHA Wildtype GIST. There is no cure, there is no effective treatment, and there is no sunshine at the end of our tunnel. Bryce has had four surgeries in four years. He undergoes regular monitoring by several doctors. His pain level is constantly at a 2 but spiking to an 8. On those days of 8 he needs a cane at times to help him walk.
Cancer does not define Bryce though. He is 17, working as an intern at Bennett Infiniti (who is amazingly supportive) as a mechanic, enjoys video games, his lizard, bacon, his friends and more bacon (really just food in general). He is a loving, kind, helpful, and respectful kid who has a lot to give and share. He has already made an impact on this world. Cancer does not define our family either. We joke about it, cry about it, get angry about it, but in the end we come together. We now ensure that once a year we have an awesome family vacation. We bought the house that Bryce wanted (with a garage for his old truck)…let’s be clear though, we all really wanted the house. We watch movies together, eat dinner together, and talk on a regular basis. It is safe to say we are a very close-knit family.
With the support of our family, friends, and the community in general, we are still standing. Upon diagnosis we prepared to sell the house and talked about apartment living. We knew that times would be tough financially, but we were not prepared for the battle with insurances and finances. We still are emotionally alive because of so many that lift us up. Through our journey, we have been supported by PCFLV in numerous ways and are forever grateful. Financially, emotionally and physically, we have been given love and support from each person within the organization. As I stated in the beginning, we are the lucky ones. Cancer has destroyed us at times, but has taught us so much, and lifted us to be who we are.
Written by his mom, Tiffany