SEGUIN, Texas — Playing through pain is something all athletes do.
But one Navarro High School football and baseball player had no idea his body was dealing with something serious until he was checked for an unrelated injury. Now, the City of Seguin has rallied around him as he fights testicular cancer.
Triston Brashears Cervantes donned #8 for the Navarro Panthers for his senior year, playing tight end, as well as occasionally filling in at defensive tackle and center. All of his life he was a strong, healthy kid.
During a football game this season, he was hit in the testicles. It hurt, but he didn’t want to go to the doctor. He felt fine.
A month later, he was hit again in the same area. This time it felt painful, but they didn’t go to the doctor. The next day, the 18-year-old sustained a concussion during football practice.
“That’s actually why I ended up taking him to the doctor,” Triston’s mom, Amber Brashears, tells KENS 5.
The teen's CT scan was clear, but a doctor who examined his testicles sent him to get an ultrasound.
“It’s certainly a shock. You go in (to get checked) for a concussion and you leave with testicular cancer," Brashears said. "It’s really rocked our world."
Her son had surgery to remove the mass in his left testicle, although cancer had already spread to lymph nodes in his abdomen and nodules in the right lung.
“My football season is over, but right now, obviously, (there are) more important things to worry about, like getting through chemo and making sure I’m healed and recovered,” Brashears Cervantes said.
His doctors said his strong health is both a blessing and a curse.
“(The doctor) said if he wouldn’t have been in such great shape, then we would’ve found the cancer sooner before it spread, so that part’s not great," Brashears said. "But they also said his body will handle the chemo much better."
The entire town is rallying around the teen. Purple ribbons have been tied to the football signs planted outside Navarro High School, with a sign reading “Strong” with a capital "T." T, or "T-Bone," are Triston’s nicknames.
Word of the diagnosis also spread to first responders at Fire Station No. 2, including Capt. Kevin Rhea. He says Amber Brashears was like a little sister to him growing up, and watched as her son grew up into the young man he is today.
“It’s his senior year, and to be dealt with something like this, we just are trying to show our support,” Rhea said. “He’s busted his tail, he’ll get through this. He’s strong and tough as nails but he needs to know we’re all rallying around him."
Brashears’s friend, Asst. Chief “Rusty” Suarez at the Seguin Police Department, decided to start a No Shave November campaign in hopes to raise money for the family.
“With treatment comes any cost and expense, whether it be travel, lodging or meals, so, you know, just to make their load a little easier is what we want to accomplish,” Suarez said.
The healthy competition between the departments is generating some friendly smack talk between them.
“(Seguin) PD can grow a beard, but they can’t grow a mustache like we can,” Rhea said.
“They’re in it to win it; they have some good-looking mustaches,” Suarez responded by saying.
The Brashears family says they want to thank the departments for their contributions.
“We’re very grateful for them stepping up and wanting to do this for us, it’s just unimaginable how the community has rallied around us, my son and his father,” she says.
Triston wants others in his shoes to stay strong.
“Don’t give up. Once you give up it’s over, you never want to give up with something like this.”
Brashears Cervantes says that he’s looking forward to getting back to playing sports and sharing his story of survival once he’s done with treatment.
At the end of the month, Seguin Police officers and firefighters will post the pictures of the contestants.
They encourage people to vote for their favorite mustache while donating to the family. You can read more about the fundraiser on the GoFundMe page.