SAN ANTONIO — The grim news from Diana Wisdom, the mother of Judson football player Bryce Wisdom, who has battled cancer for more than a year, was heartbreaking.
In a Facebook post Thursday, she wrote:
Bryce will start chemotherapy tomorrow due to the findings from the scans that were done yesterday. The cancer has spread throughout his body and we need to start ASAP. Please please please continue to pray as our survival percentage has decreased substantially. We have a war and we are ready to fight one day at a time, one smile at a time.
Bryce, who turned 17 just last week, has been in and out of the hospital since last March, when he had his cancerous right kidney removed. He had surgery again earlier this year to remove a tumor that had grown in the area where his right kidney once was.
Unfortunately, doctors weren’t able to take out the entire tumor, Diana Wisdom posted on Facebook after the surgery.
As Bryce begins yet another round of chemotherapy, we hope and pray that this good young man will yet recover and continue reflecting the best of the human spirit.
Described as a “bright light” by all those who know him, Bryce has inspired his teammates and coaches with his positive attitude, characteristically good nature and grit during his struggle to force the cancer into remission.
“If he’s hurting, you’d never know it because he never complains or seeks pity,” Judson coach Rodney Williams said on Bryce's birthday. “He’s been a strength for his parents. They can’t falter because he won’t. He’s a special young man.”
Although only 5-foot-4 and 145 pounds before he became ill, Bryce was on track to be “in the mix” for a spot on the Rockets’ roster as a junior cornerback last season.
Judson co-defensive coordinator Quintin Green, who has a strong bond with Bryce and his family, always has marveled at the player’s tenacity.
“That’s the type of kid he was even before he was diagnosed with this,” Green said. “I coached him on JV and every week I was fighting for him, like, ‘Man, all you guys see is this little guy, but he’s one of the best players I have.’ He’s smart, tough. He never uses his size or anything else as an excuse. He finds a way to get things done.
“I remember, for instance, we’re playing Smithson Valley and they’ve got – no kidding, a 6-5 receiver – and I had one of our other corners on him. But then I said, ‘You know what, Bryce? You go ahead and shadow him.’ Dude didn’t get a catch the rest of the game. I remember he tried to catch something on the sideline, and Bryce was jumping up and splitting the guy’s hands.”
Make no mistake about it: Bryce has touched lives far beyond the Judson field house. Wherever the Judson football team played last season, fans on both sides of the stadium waved orange “Bryce Strong” signs. It was moving to see so many people show their support. But that’s the effect Bryce has had on all those familiar with his story.
Even on the darkest nights – and there have been many – Bryce has maintained the friendly nature that endears him to everybody he crosses paths with. Then there’s that unforgettable smile that “can light up a room,” as Williams and his assistant coaches have said so often.
“There are a lot of things going on today, but everybody loves him,” assistant coach Mark Sauceda said. “He has that contagious personality, and that smile wins you over.”
Williams made Bryce a student assistant coach and team captain last year when preseason workouts started in August. Bryce was at school on the first day of classes and attended practice when his health permitted. Although still 5-foot-4 and way below his playing weight, Bryce remains a towering figure to his teammates.
Offensive tackle Kamron Scott, who will be a senior when the next school year starts, said Wisdom's battle against cancer has had a galvanizing effect on the Rockets.
"I was really shocked when I first heard about it," Scott said. "It hurt me and I was sad. I didn't think it would happen to somebody like him. He was always smiling and had a happy attitude.
"When Bryce got cancer, it kind of brought everybody together like a family. He really helped us become closer. Seeing him deal with things has inspired us and motivated us."
Green played football at Judson with Bryce’s oldest brother, Roisean, and the two graduated together in 2007. Bryce’s other older brother, Rashad, graduated from Judson in December 2018 and plays football at UTSA.
Bryce had his heart set on following the same path his brothers traveled as Rockets football players before cancer robbed him of that opportunity. But he’s remained steadfast and fought the good fight, just as he did when he lined up against that 6-5 Smithson Valley receiver.
Though Bryce faces tough odds, he’s never run from a challenge. Quitting is simply not in his DNA. And that’s why people throughout Greater San Antonio have held him close to their hearts and pulled for him.
“Bryce has been an inspiration to people to just take life one day at a time,” Green said. “I’ve seen him do that everywhere, not just at Judson.”
They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to look into Bryce’s eyes, and I have seen love, understanding, faith and wisdom.
I work with words every day, but I have found it difficult to adequately describe the warm feeling that filled my heart when I met Bryce. I’ve since concluded it was a peace that came from being in the presence of someone with a pure heart. I’ll always cherish that memory.
Please keep this gentle young man and his family in your prayers.