The biggest worry that any 14 year old in high school should have to face is how to spend their Friday night, but for 9th Regiment Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadet Keith Bryant from Winston Salem State University, freshman year of high school was enshrouded in uncertainty the moment he was told he may never be able to run again.
The Yadkin County, N.C. native was playing football at the age of 14 when his ankle started hurting all the time. He decided to see his family physician, only to be told that the pain he felt was only growing pains. It wasn’t until Bryant saw an orthopedic that he was diagnosed with cancer in his ankle.
“I was surprised,” said Bryant when he first heard the news. “My mom was with me, and she was the one who started crying. I was 14, so I didn’t really care. I just wanted to go home and play my Xbox.”
That feeling of indifference didn’t last long, however. Once Bryant got home, the severity of the situation started to sink in when he was told that he may never be able to run again; a tragic possibility that was hard to cope with at such a young age.
“After I got home and I had it explained to me how serious it was, I stayed quiet for a few days, praying and hoping,” said Bryant.
After undergoing chemotherapy and praying wholeheartedly for remission, Bryant finally learned he was cancer-free on March 24, 2005. Not only is Bryant able to run again, but he has returned to playing football and is currently attending the Leader Development and Assessment Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Throughout his struggle with cancer, Bryant said his mother Anita Humphreys was his biggest supporter. She continues to serve as motivation now while he’s at LDAC. There’s no doubt in Bryant’s mind that she will continue to be there for him in any endeavor he undertakes in his future.
“She’s one of those tough moms,” said Bryant. “Instead of my dad picking me up when I fell off my bike, my mom would. She’d dust me off and just keep going. She motivates me just through love. Anything I need, she’s always been there for me.”
Nine years later, Bryant said his ankle still hurts once in a while, but that won’t stop him from pursuing his childhood dream of entering the military police squad. Commissioning as an officer will just be the first step to a military career for this dedicated Cadet who faced his struggle with cancer valiantly at such a young age.
“The Army’s gonna have to throw me out on my head for me to retire,” said Bryant. “I’m making a career out of this.”
Story by Allie Pasdera.