This is a story of the warm and kind hearts.
This is a story about appreciating our shared humanity.
This is a story about sincerity and the goodness of people.
This is a story about one superhero, a regular boy with extraordinary strengths and burning desire to win. To win the battle of his life, for his life!
The normal day that suddenly wasn’t normal
Everything was great. We had just finished up one of the scheduled class trainings, a normal day with normal stuff going on. One of our competitive foil fencers Bryce Chen hugged his coach, and along with his family went to the San Francisco airport to fly to Taiwan for family matters. We talked about him being back in a week, about upcoming competitions and progress in training. Traveling is a common thing for the fencers, and this was really no big deal it seemed.
We didn’t even think about it.
Suddenly twenty four hours later on April 20, 2015 I received the most surreal text message I’ve ever gotten in my life from his mom Anita: “Bryce is undergoing an emergency brain tumor surgery at the moment in Taiwan. … Please pray for Bryce”.
Wait, what? This didn’t seem possible.
Bryce was absolutely healthy a day ago. It felt like a terrible mistake, some prank that was just over the top. But, being a mom, I immediately understood that parents never make such jokes. This was a harsh reality, the beginning of the most difficult bout of his life.
A fencing community comes together
As a fencing community, we immediately came together. We waited for any word of news, shared every single piece of information we heard. We all mobilized in our personal prayers about Bryce, sending him huge waves of love and positive energy. News about the malignant type of tumor broke our hearts, but we prayed.
When I got word of what was happening with Bryce, I immediately put out a call for help to support him and his family. The response was far beyond my expectations! Every member of the club was mobilized and was willing to support Bryce. In just few days, all of our students had brought in gifts and letters, children drew pictures for Bryce, their drawings full of hope. Fencers from all of our classes wrote individual letters to Bryce, some starting with introductions about who they were as they had never even met this boy who they were so moved to help.
There is a wild mixture of fear, hope, and a desire to help that sinks into you when you see someone you know battling for their life, someone whose pain could be your own. We saw those emotions in our students.
So many parents and all of our fencers rushed to be there for him. People asked to donate money, they tried desperately to find second opinion doctors, and everyone prayed for Bryce’s health and wellness. There was this gigantic wave of love that came out of these walls at the club and surely was felt so far away in Taipei, Taiwan in the hospital where one brave little boy and his family were having the hardest bout of their lives!
A child fencer, a real superhero
Bryce is an amazingly strong boy. He is a real fighter, a superhero! He and his family are an exceptional example to all of how to take on life, of how to attack and face your ultimate fear.
This boy beat all of the odds and won his battle! The fight took over a year. That seems impossible to imagine as a parent, an impossible journey for a child to face. It was a long and hard year for Bryce and for his amazing family.
As soon as he was able to get up and moving, Bryce came into AFM with no hair and big scar. He looked nothing like the boy that had hugged his coach few months before, but at once he also seemed to be exactly the same child, brimming with positivity and hope for the future.
I was truly astonished that some of his teammates, 10 years old kids, shaved their heads to show solidarity with Bryce. As a person and a mom, I was touched to tears by this simple gesture of dear and deep friendship.
A spirit to fight, a spirit to win
Little by little Bryce began to return back to a life with some kind of normalcy. It took him a year and a half to wrestle his hardest with the illness. His small body and fiery spirit endured multiple surgeries, chemo and radio therapy, slow recovery – but he was back!
Bryce had believed deep within his heart for all of these long months that HE WOULD FIGHT AND WIN!
As his strength returned, he brought that spirit to his fencing. He had within him a huge desire to win and succeed once he was back with his beloved foil. He started his return to fencing by taking private lessons, then built a plan for slow way back to training and today he is a fencer in our competitive foil class. And more over, he is back to competitions!!!
Today, over a year and a half later, when you look at him all you will see is a humble 12 year old boy. But inside this boy has the spirit of warrior. He is a person who never gives up, a person who can inspire everyone.
Bryce is our hero! His spirit is unbeatable. This child is an example to all of us about how to stay strong even in the most difficult situations and win.
It is our pleasure to nominate Bryce Chen to be a person of the month that inspires others. We nominate him for Fencing Spirit of Sport recognition award.