Brycen Newman stays active outside hospital doors; Experimental treatment begins this month
May 16, 2016
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The road to recovery has been exhausting for Cathedral Catholic High School sophomore Brycen Newman ’18, who in July of 2015 was diagnosed with melidoblacoma, one of 128 different strains of brain cancer.
Despite the demanding schedule cancer patients like Brycen are subjected to, visiting the hospital sometimes on a daily basis, taking blood tests and undergoing surgeries and other medical procedures, Brycen still has the time and energy to participate in events outside the hospital doors.
“The girls lacrosse and football teams came out to a kickball tournament in Alpine on a Sunday,” Mr. Rick Newman, Brycen’s dad, said. “Out of the 30 teams, a third of them came from Cathedral. Quinn and Wyatt Hoffmann’s team made it to the finals [as well as] Jason Lyon’s team [a friend of Brycen’s who passed away this past October from brain cancer. Jason was a senior at Christian High School in Alpine, CA].”
CCHS has shown tremendous support for Brycen since his diagnosis. And now, recent news that Brycen’s doctors found another tumor in Brycen’s brain has led to even more support from the CCHS community.
“The [school] rally the other week made Brycen smile from ear to ear,” Mr Newman said. “Brycen loves his school, and the outpouring from all of the community is incredible. [Cathedral] is part of our family.”
Classmates and faculty, even those people who do not know Brycen personally, have donated to his GoFundMe account to help defray medical costs, and many people have commented on Brycen’s Battle for Brycen Facebook page. These actions definitely say something about the CCHS community and its unity as a faith-based school.
CCHS student Sydney Straton ’18 even created posters for Brycen at the Super Bowl in January.
“We all love Bryce and would do anything to help him out,” Stratton said. “All the sophomores support him and know he’s going to get through this.”
Brycen is both thankful and confident that his friends, and even people he does not know, support him and pray for him.
“[My friends] rally for me every day and are really supportive,” Brycen said. “They visit me when they can and I go see them, too. I come out to the baseball games and sometimes I [hang out with friends] and we do poker and stuff like that.”
The battle against cancer is not an easy one as cancer patients and their families know, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and for some, that light is God.
“God has helped me battle through cancer,” Brycen said. “I couldn’t have done it without him. Believe and good things will happen.”
God has opened up new doors for Brycen and his family. The latest door to open has been an introduction to one of the newest, most cutting-edge cancer therapies, immunotherapy or biologic therapy, which replaces the more traditional approaches of chemotherapy and radiation.
According to cancer.net, “Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer. It uses materials either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target or restore immune system function.”
Brycen’s latest surgery will take place soon after the family travels this month to Orlando, Florida to receive treatment from Duane Mitchell, a neurosurgeon at the University of Florida who specializes in neurosurgery and immunotherapy.
The Newman family is hopeful that the immunotherapy works, noting that Brycen will receive the same therapy that former President Jimmy Carter received five months ago that cured his cancer.
“If the tumor is small enough then I won’t need surgery,” Brycen said. “A laser beam [would be used to] burn the tumor instead. [To determine if the tumor is small or large], the robot scans the tumor and sees how big it is.”
Brycen has worked hard lately to build muscle, visiting the gym six days a week and taking yoga and pilates with his mother every Sunday. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Brycen attends physical therapy and practices coordination and balance.
He also continues to eat healthy. As a part of the sugarless diet he has had to continue during treatment, Brycen eats plenty of foods with vegetables and ginger.
“Brycen can still eat fruit,” Mr. Newman said. “He makes shakes with ginger, which can help fight cancer cells. He also drinks alkaline water. The theory of alkaline water is that cancer does not survive in it.”
“We’ll try anything as long as there is some hope.”
The one constant through this ordeal remains the family’s faith.
“We pray every night,” Mr. Newman said. “It’s important in keeping the faith and knowing there is someone watching over us. Brycen is blessed to go to a Catholic school.”