Tyler ISD student battles cancer, inspires others
Tyler, Texas (KETK) — Boulter Middle School student, Bre’Shauna Washington, is a very busy 12 year old who is a member of the Boulter cheerleading squad, student council, and the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. She also dedicates her time every morning and afternoon to raising and lowering the flags on campus. What she doesn’t have time for, she says, is another year of intense chemotherapy treatment that keeps her isolated from friends and family and away from the school she loves so much.
Two years ago, Bre’Shauna began experiencing shoulder pain that continued to intensify. Her doctors originally attributed the pain to sore or strained muscles. But in the following days, her face began to swell and doctors knew something else had to be going on. Results from a chest X-ray showed a large mass in her chest, leading doctors to diagnose Bre’Shauna with lymphoblastic lymphoma, or t-cell lymphoma, a type of blood cancer mostly found in children.
The best course of treatment required a full year of chemotherapy so intense that it required her to be in complete isolation from her family and friends. The isolation caused her to miss all but one week of the fifth grade.
Although the treatment was difficult, it did slow the cancer down and raised doctors’ hopes of a full remission. However, just last month tests revealed another mass in Bre’Shauna’s chest leaving doctors to deliver a grim prognosis. She knew immediately that she did not want to miss another year of school to receive more of the intense chemotherapy.
“I knew I needed to get back to school and that I needed to get out of the hospital if I wanted to move on to the seventh grade,” Bre’Shauna said.
“Bre’Shauna is 12 years old so I want her to have input in her medical decisions,” Tyronda Sherfield, Bre’Shauna’s mother, said. “She decided she did not want to go through such intense treatment again and she has faith that God will heal and restore her.”
On March 17 doctors sent Bre’Shauna home with only a few days to live and a new oral chemotherapy and steroid regimen. Surprisingly, three days later she was feeling better, back to school and back to her normal routine.
“When we returned on March 28 for another chest X-ray, the tumor had shrunk so much that doctors are now optimistic that it will continue to shrink. If it continues to shrink it will add more and more days to her life,” Ms. Sherfield said.
Through all the ups and downs since the diagnosis, two things have remained constant for Bre’Shauna; her faith and her joy for going to school.
“It is awesome to be around friends and doing school work and being a normal kid,” she said. “School has helped me this year both physically and mentally to get myself in order, focused and organized to get to the higher level of where I want to be. And if I didn’t have my faith, I don’t know where I would be now.”
Although the days ahead are uncertain, Bre’Shauna says she has learned that she can be strong in times she thought all she would do was cry.
“I feel stronger and I want to beat it,” she said.
“Bre’Shauna has had such an impact on her fellow students and the staff here at Boulter,” Principal Rodney Curry said. “We all realize that what we complain about is nothing compared to what others are going through. Seeing her faith has increased our faith.”