Bryce Campbell & Family

Bryce A. Campbell

Bryce Campbell was born on May 9th, 1997. He is the second born of 4 children. He came into the world like a whirlwind, much like his personality would continue for the rest of his young life. He was such a happy, loving baby and child. He had so much energy that he would often summersault from room to room.  He could, and did, talk to anyone, always very friendly and outgoing.  He loved to play with his siblings, often choreographing detailed fight/ play scenes,  acting out fantastic, imaginative worlds. Bryce loved bugs, insects, and birds. He could tell us all about his vast amounts of knowledge about these interests of his, and he loved to teach anyone he could, all that he knew. 

Unbeknownst to us, there was a terrible, deadly, evil entity growing, hidden, down in the depths of his precious little body.  It had a way of staying hidden, masked by symptoms that were difficult to diagnose. We went through several doctors and misdiagnoses until we finally were able to get help on an emergency bases in Iowa City, where he was admitted immediately to the PICU for emergency treatment for what we discovered was T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, stage 4. This is one of 4 types of Lymphomas that a child can get, and could not be diagnosed through blood work. The damage stays hidden deep inside a child’s body, usually in the thoracic area, so by the time it is discovered, the child is often VERY ill, as was Bryce.  We learned that this is a very difficult cancer to cure.

Thankfully, he responded well to the emergency chemotherapy, and after a long hospital stay, he was sent home on a 2 year treatment plan, which left him very weak and exhausted at home, and meant he had to come to the hospital for a series of intense chemotherapy treatments, which he did not tolerate well. He was so sick, vomiting, and could not do much of anything during these admissions.  Eventually, he reached remission. We were thankful. Now to kill ALL of those cancer cells! Alas, that was not to be…

After the 2 years, Bryce had to have a frequent, thorough check up and scan to assess if his body had rid of the cancer for good, and to catch anything that may come back.   Months later, the scan looked abnormal. We went in for a more thorough exam as a follow up. The news was not good. It was back.

To say we were devastated was an understatement. I can still remember driving home from Iowa City, Bryce in the back seat, me crying intermittently, trying to navigate through the newly falling, thick snow, Bryce telling me, ”It’s going to be alight, Mom.”

We were told that Bryce would now need a full blood and bone marrow transplant.  The prognosis for a cure was bleak for this cancer to relapse, plus the transplant itself could kill him. There was not much hope. We searched and searched for something to help our boy. We went for additional opinions. Oh the heart wrenching feeling, the ache in the pit of one’s stomach.  Finally, we conceded to the transplant.  None of his siblings were a good enough match, although Toby came very close! We were very thankful to have a near perfect match from a stranger. 

Bryce’s transplant was one of those cases where, if it could happen, it pretty much did. His story is long, but the short version is that we nearly lost him from the transplant alone. He developed VOD or Veno occlusive disease of the liver, which nearly killed him, but he pulled through, which resulted also in kidney failure. He was on dialysis for 8 weeks. We were amazed when his kidneys eventually gained back the ability to work independently of dialysis. He still would live with kidney disease the rest of his life. He also had a respiratory issue that nearly killed him, as well, but finally, after a very long, stressful ordeal, he was able to go home, with frequent visits to IC.

He was quite ill over that next year, but he seemed to be getting better little by little.  We celebrated with a one year post transplant party. Within days we went in for his one year check up, and our hearts were completely broken to discover that his cancer had returned yet again!!

Our options at this point were just bad. After much prayer and consideration, Bryce decided to fight, and another treatment plan was begun.  Sadly, his sweet body just couldn’t take the onslaught from the chemotherapy chemicals, and he became very sick. He had some terrible side effects, and we ended up in the PICU again. It was very scary. Eventually, he improved and began to come back to us and we were able to take him home. We had weeks of an amazing time of him feeling so much better, and he was able to do many things with his siblings. We were told this would be short lived, and so it was. We enjoyed and cherished our last Christmas together. It was so bitter sweet. In our home, he left us here on eart on Jan. 2nd, 2013.  I will never forget this tragic, precious, intimate, devastating, privileged moment in my entire life. Our Brycey didn’t want to die…but he knew he would be healed, and with his Lord and Savior in Heaven, and we will see him again.