Stories of Hope
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Survivor Relies on Family and Faith
Article date: February 12, 2013
"No matter how old we get, no one can replace their mother and father. We'll always have that closeness because none of us will ever forget this experience. I'm grateful even in a time of adversity because my family became even closer."
The Bryants have always been a close family, but that closeness was never so evident as when 25-year-old Jerald was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Having just graduated from Rowan University in New Jersey, Jerald was living at home when he became sick. So his parents were close by and able to help when he most needed them.
Jerald said, “No matter how old we get, no one can replace their mother and father. We’ll always have that closeness because none of us will ever forget this experience. I’m grateful even in a time of adversity because my family became even closer.”
‘I didn’t know what was going on’
In 2009 after he graduated from college with a degree in finance, Jerald knew something was wrong, but he didn’t know what. His symptoms included lower back pain, profuse sweating, and unexplained weight loss. In just a few months, he’d dropped about 40 to 50 lbs. His family doctor said it was probably the flu. But one day, Jerald suddenly became so dizzy he could barely walk. He began to throw up blood and his mother, Darlene, rushed him to the emergency room.
At the hospital, Jerald and Darlene were joined by Jerald’s father, sister, and uncle. He underwent a series of tests. They revealed tumors in Jerald’s abdomen that had grown into his kidney, liver, and lower intestine, causing the bleeding. A nurse told Darlene that Jerald had stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Darlene was shocked. Her son was young and healthy, and worked out regularly at a gym. She said, “How do you go from a young man who’s had nothing more than a cold to stage IV lymphoma?”
‘God and my family were right there with me’
Jerald began chemotherapy and his tumors shrank. But only a few months into his treatment, the cancer returned. He was hospitalized for 3 weeks and his parents stayed with him the entire time, sleeping in chairs in his room and washing up in a bathroom down the hall. Jerald said, “It was one of the scariest moments of my life, but I was so glad to have God and my family right there with me through it all.”
His treatment included more chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, and radiation.
‘Cancer didn’t win’
Three years after the trip to the emergency room, Jerald’s doctor said he could detect no signs of lymphoma. Jerald continues to have regular scans and routine checkups.
After his treatment, Jerald went back to school and is now working on his MBA. He said, “Going back to school was my way of telling cancer it didn’t win. It didn’t rob me; there was a purpose.”