Updated: Aug 12, 2022
Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens oneself. The words “courage” and “brave” in the context of preschool life often bring to mind the moments when a child tries a new food, learns to swim, or when they say goodbye to their parents on the first day of school. We can only hope and pray that courage in the life of a small child does not take on new meaning as defined by the bravery needed to undergo a round of chemo, or surgery, or radiation. The strength it takes for families affected by childhood cancers is like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. To watch them overcoming the challenges, over and over again, always while shining lights of positivity on their loved ones is miraculous.
Our LPPP community has seen this strength and courage first hand as manifested through the battles fought by our LPPP Alumni Warriors. Each one of these brave LPPP children fight long and hard against cancer. Each one has a unique story to share. And each time, our LPPP community rallies in support of their families.
Once you are a part of the LPPP family, you are forever a part of the LPPP family. And it is in that spirit that I would like to begin a new LPPP tradition of supporting Childhood Cancer Awareness Month every September. Each week, we will share the stories of these brave LPPP Warriors and give ways in which you can support the fight against cancer.
Join me in honoring our brave LPPP Alumni!
This week we honor Brynn Wheeler, whose story and chosen charitable organizations are below.
Meet Brynn, an 8-year-old, fierce warrior of Ewing Sarcoma (EWS). Brynn is also an alumni of LPPP.
After experiencing a mild cough for a week and fast, labored breathing, Brynn's parents took her to the ER in December 2018 where doctors found a very large mass filling the right side of her chest. Because the mass was so big, it was pushing on her lungs and heart and had taken up most of the right side of her chest. A biopsy of the tumor revealed her family's worst fear - cancer. She immediately started chemotherapy to shrink the tumor and allow her to breathe better.
After nine rounds of chemo, the tumor shrunk significantly smaller making it operable. Brynn was now ready for surgery at CHLA to remove the tumors, along with three ribs and about 20 percent of her right lung.
The next steps were to continue with an additional 5 rounds of chemo and proton radiation in San Diego to kill any remaining cancer cells in her right chest cavity. She finished up her first battle with EWS in August 2019.
In November 2019, Brynn lost her best friend and a close family friend of the Wheelers, to cancer. This was devastating to Brynn and her family.
In February 2020, a post-surgery scan revealed a recurrence (small tumor) in her right chest cavity, meaning another treatment plan was in order. There is not a standard protocol to treat a EWS relapse, so each step of this second treatment plan has been full of hard decisions.
She recently had her second surgery in June to remove the recurrent tumor and is well down her treatment path. She has had 7 rounds of chemo so far and is almost finished with proton radiation. There is still a lot to navigate and decisions to be made on the next steps in her plan. When Brynn is not at the hospital or getting the holistic care/supportive care she also receives, she loves riding horses & spending time with her family and friends.
Brynn continues to amaze everyone around with her unbreakable warrior spirit! #BattlingforBrynn