Cancer, or any other disease for that matter, was never on the horizon for Bryce Wisdom of Judson High School in Converse, Texas. The junior was expected to battle for a spot on the Judson Rockets varsity football team, but the discovery of a in his right kidney changed everything. Fortunately, the teen got a huge, unexpected, and uplifting boost before beginning chemo treatment for the rare form of cancer.
In March, just weeks before he turned 16, Bryce’s word turned upside down when he was diagnosed with Wilm’s Tumor — a rare form of kidney cancer.He said, “It didn’t hit me at first . . . I didn’t believe it. I didn’t really know how to feel until I got home. Then it hit me. I was sad for a day or so after they told me. The only day I cried through the whole process was when they told me I had cancer.”
Primarily, the tumor appears in young children aged 3 to 4, and treatment usually involves surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. He immediately followed protocol and had surgery to remove his right kidney, the death knell for a possible football career, and finished weeks of grueling chemo treatment at Methodist Children’s Hospital in August.
The hospital holds a bell-ringing ritual for cancer patients who have completed chemo treatment, and when Bryce rang the bell, Judson head football coach Rodney Williams was in the room with the family.
“I was a little surprised when he went because I knew he was busy with the football team,” Bryce said. “But that’s the kind of person he is. He cares about people. It’s not just about football with him.” The high school principal was there as well, which showed just how much the school and the community nurtured their students.
As head coach for the Rockets, Williams then appointed Bryce as team captain, and his teammates wouldn’t have it any other way. “He’s an inspiration to the team and an inspiration to me,” said junior offensive guard Cameron Williams, one of Bryce’s best friends.
Bryce’s father, Rich Wisdom, couldn’t be prouder of his son, and marveled at how he handles such adversity at his age. “He is a true warrior. He is a true champion in my eyes. From day one when we got the news to look at him today, it’s a blessing. I know a lot of people go through stuff in life, but this probably has to be one of the hardest things to go through. And like I said, he’s taken this every step of the way like a true champion.”
Unfortunately, some cancers are more aggressive than others, and a month after completing chemo treatment Bryce received devastating news. The cancer had returned, and had spread to other parts of his body.
His mother Diana Wisdom recalled, “He went through 19 weeks of treatment and chemotherapy and he even rang the bell on August 23rd on his last day of chemo. Sadly on Sept 12th Bryce was told that another tumor was in his body and now the fight must begin again.”
Bryce is now steadying himself for a second round of chemo treatment, which will take 25 weeks.
On this second bout with cancer, his classmates and friends found a creative way to show their support for Bryce. To keep his spirits up, many of his friends in the community have also started wearing shirts emblazoned with “Bryce Strong” on the front.
And on his last day in school, in an incredible show of love and support, a marching band went through the school’s halls and performed for him.
Surrounded by students and faculty, all clapping and cheering for him, Bryce was showered with blue and orange balloons as he walked to the exit. It certainly was a tremendously uplifting send-off for someone who has to face arduous weeks of chemo treatment.
The family set up a GoFundMe campaign to help defray expenses and support Bryce’s other medical needs. Since Bryce has been such an inspiration to the community, they have actually breached their $7,500 goal and have raised around $14,000. This will surely go a long way as Bryce continues his battle against cancer.
You can see the grand gesture of support for Bryce and his family in the video below:
The love and support from #Judson community in full force for @BryceWisdom20 last day of school. He starts 25 weeks of chemo and radiation and has been such an inspiration to everyone around him💛 @JudsonFootball @JudsonISD @dianawisdom pic.twitter.com/HAB6eJuJOE
— Jill Jelnick (@JillJelnick) October 11, 2019