This is a story about Kyle Brainard, a 13-year old football-loving kid from New Jersey.
When Kyle was in fifth grade just a couple of years ago, he noticed a lump appear on his right leg, surrounded by a few smaller lumps. It was significant enough in size to warrant getting checked out — just over the size of a grape. The Children’s hospital of Philadelphia was able to diagnose it as cancerous.
What followed was the treacherous path of chemotherapy and many days filled with nausea. Kyle did not allow this new reality to deter him from pursuing a life of learning, adventure and sport, however.
“He asked a lot of questions,’’ his father Steve said, per the Orlando Sentinel. “He wanted to know what his treatment was, and he was very engaged in it. He got interested in science and had questions about medical stuff, which he never did before.’’
As part of the Make-a-Wish foundation, Kyle, along with four other kids, was able to get up close and personal with a lot of NFL players at this year’s Pro Bowl. One of them, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, had seen his son go through some tough situations and felt as though he could relate.
“When you see a family going through something, it reminds you of what’s really going on in people’s lives,’’ Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr said. “I had my son go through three [intestinal] surgeries. I’ve been there, and so any time you can be there for a family, give them some hope, some encouragement, I’m all for it.’’
Kyle is a big fan of the NFL and had a blast meeting the players.
“I am a big fan of the NFL, so I really like it when I get to meet players,’’ he said. “It’s really cool. I kind of want to be just like them.’’
One of Kyle’s friends was going through a relatable situation, as the boy’s mother was battling breast cancer. When Kyle started to lose his hair, his friend decided to organize a community event in support of him. About 80 people showed up to get their hair cut in honor of Kyle; some of them which he did not know.
“It felt like they were supporting me,’’ Kyle said. “It helped me get through chemotherapy.’’
Kyle’s last treatment was in August of 2017 and he has since gone into remission, thankfully. His mother feels as though it’s given her new perspective.
“We better understand what’s important in life,’’ Laura said. “Maybe things we used to get worked up about, anything from dishes in the sink, dusting the floors and little arguments with people … Overall, we just have a different perspective.’’