The Fighting Kid

Dear Bryson,

When we first heard you had cancer, you have no idea how many people began praying for you. Then again, you might have an idea. Either way, there were a lot of us.

We were praying night and day. Day and night. Every single morning at breakfast. Each dinner. You were in our hearts. You were in our minds. You worked your way into our souls.

That might sound a little creepy, but it’s true. You are a fighter.

And now you’re starting school. Your first day of seventh grade. And I am thrilled to hear it. Because, you see, when I first got your grandmother’s letter about how you were suffering from an aggressive cancer, I read her words and wept. Because at the time, you see, I was going through a very difficult period in my own life, physically.

The doctor wasn’t sure whether I had cancer or not. They wanted to check me out. Do a bunch of tests. It scared the Shinola out of me.

I am a wimp. A big baby. I am nothing compared to you, Bryson.

Because there you were. Showing me what real bravery looks like. You were facing the devil. Head on. You were fighting.

I found myself checking you out on Facebook a lot. I read all the updates, and comments people were writing to you. I read all the words of encouragement. All the prayers.

I saw pictures of you with your head shaved. Your face was puffy from the medication, and you looked pretty tired. But you were always smiling. I don’t know how.

You gave me strength, Bryson. Really. Just knowing what you endured, and all that you suffered, you imparted actual strength to me.

So when your grandmother wrote to me yesterday, asking me to give you some words of advice before you started the seventh grade, I chuckled. Because I felt the strong need to tell her, and you, that I am not qualified to give you advice.

I am a weak human being. My faith is weak. My mind is weak. I am plagued by doubt. And by the presence of my own ego. Advice? No sir. I have no words of wisdom.

It is you, Bryson, who should give me your words. It’s you who have inspired me to be braver. Bolder. More adventurous. More excited about life. More present. Less selfish.

You have shown me, and countless others, how to look upward, how to survive, how to hope, and how to live a rich, full life.

Therefore, please remember, as you start your first day of class, to be gentle with those of us who do not understand. Those of us who do not know what life is about the way you do.

You see, Bryson, you know much more than your peers ever will. It is a great burden you have been given. For they cannot possibly understand the stripes you have earned. They will never get it. You are at a different stage than the rest of us. You are in a different league, so to speak.

You see things the rest of us will never see. You know things I might never know.

So forgive us for our stupidity. We know not what we do. Forgive us for our insensitivities. Our foolhardiness. Our squabbling about idiotic, earthly things. Our preoccupation with headlines.

Show us how to love, and how to be. Teach us to confront that which we fear. Show us how to be kind. Be patient with us.

You are younger than me by many years. But you are my brother. And I will continue to learn from you, Bryson. For your life is the gift. It is the gift that was given to this world. A gift you’ve given to me and so many others.

Congratulations on being cancer free. I hope your seventh grade year is a good one.

42 comments

  1. Leigh Amiot - August 5, 2022 9:36 am

    Coffee, Wordle, good news from Sean, the good book, a prayer for Bryson…my day has begun.

    Reply
  2. ALLEN - August 5, 2022 9:41 am

    Bryson! Thanks for sharing with us, Sean

    Reply
  3. Julie - August 5, 2022 9:47 am

    Thank you Sean for sharing Bryson’s bravery with us. Bryson, if you happen to see this – hope your 7th grade year is fabulous!!

    Reply
  4. Jocelyn - August 5, 2022 10:01 am

    It is amazing what kids can teach is adults about going through life changing events. They are so resilient and innocent. Bryson. Have a blast in 7th grade and 8,9,10,11 and 12th as well. The first 25 years of life of the best. After that Life becomes tedious and routine.

    Reply
  5. Ann Thompson - August 5, 2022 10:11 am

    Great column. This could be a reading essential for every child going back to school. Here’s hoping Bryson has a great year ahead.

    Reply
  6. Ed (Bear) - August 5, 2022 10:26 am

    Dear Sean,

    It’s a wonderful miracle of hard work that Bryson is now cancer free. Thanks for sharing this great news!

    But don’t short change yourself. You’ve seen your share of trauma. And you’ve come through with bright shining colors! And you’re generously sharing your gifts with all of us reader/followers.

    When I read your reader’s comments, it’s clear that they all recognize and appreciate your many talents too.

    We love you.

    Thank you for surviving in such a triumphant way and sharing yourself with us!

    Here’s wishing you a great year ahead too!

    Reply
  7. Steve - August 5, 2022 10:55 am

    ATTA BOY, Bryson!!!

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  8. Deborah Blount - August 5, 2022 11:22 am

    Best advice you could have given.

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  9. Cheryl Karpen - August 5, 2022 11:29 am

    You are braver than you think. Each day when you share your heart and your vulnerability about the beauty and messiness of life; that’s being brave too. Now about Bryson. He’s my hero. So is our five-year-old granddaughter named Piper. At age four, Piper had a kidney transplant and has since endured many surgeries, procedures, and uncertainties. Yet, she nearly always exudes joy. Real, authentic joy. I want to be more like Bryson and Piper when I grow up.

    Reply
  10. Joy Jacobs - August 5, 2022 11:44 am

    ❤️

    Reply
  11. 1018le - August 5, 2022 11:47 am

    This is an AWESOME message to the Fighting Kid, Sean! I noted the time you had posted it; about the time I was awake! I have forwarded it to several friends. Thanks so much for your recognizing Bryson’s gift of the intelligence that comes with hardships! May God continue to bless you, his grandmother and him!

    Reply
  12. Susan - August 5, 2022 11:49 am

    Have a great year in 7th grade, Bryson! I will continue to pray for you🙏🙏. Thank you, Sean for this update!♥️

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  13. Judy - August 5, 2022 11:56 am

    AMEN!

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  14. Trent - August 5, 2022 12:25 pm

    Truly touching and inspirational. Perspective can be an illusive thing. May the Lord strengthen, uplift and preserve Bryson this day and all days – and you, too, Sean!

    Reply
  15. Diann - August 5, 2022 12:38 pm

    Well if those aren’t inspirational words, there aren’t any! Love this post!

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  16. LBJ - August 5, 2022 12:50 pm

    God is good!❤️

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  17. Sonny Morris - August 5, 2022 12:58 pm

    Well said!! I, too, am cancer free!!! Three years now. Even at 77, there is a wonderful feeling to be able to say that. I would encourage that young man to visit and speak to other children with serious issues. Give them hope for a tomorrow! Thank you for all you do for us!! God bless.

    Reply
  18. Jeanie Morelock - August 5, 2022 1:28 pm

    Wow! Sean do you have ANY idea what a ministry God has given you? You do not merely write books & blog posts! NO, you DO impart wisdom and you do it with humility and grace! You are touching lives and each day you “earn your stripes”! God’s word tells us “By His stripes we are healed…” Isaiah 53:5; but I think this applies to ALL of us as we earn our stripes, they make us stronger!

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  19. imcdbw - August 5, 2022 1:36 pm

    Oh Sean! And I cry. How right you are.

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  20. David Britnell - August 5, 2022 1:55 pm

    How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news! Romans 10:14. Thanks for Bryson’s story and the news that he is cancer free. God be with you both.

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  21. Patricia Gibson - August 5, 2022 2:06 pm

    God be with Bryson for health and a wonderful school year!!

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  22. Ken Pearson - August 5, 2022 2:06 pm

    Amen & amen!

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  23. Joe - August 5, 2022 2:28 pm

    Congratulations Bryson!!

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  24. Vince - August 5, 2022 2:30 pm

    Staring death in the face will change one’s perspective. Bryson has learned a hard lesson very early in life and while it can be a burden, it can also make the vicissitudes of life very much easier to handle. He now really knows what is important and hopefully he will be able to share that with others on their journeys. God speed, Bryson!

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  25. Anne Arthur - August 5, 2022 2:52 pm

    Prayer works, and God delivered two miracles: new life for strong, wise Bryson and gifted, compassionate words by Sean. AMEN. Love and power to you both.

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  26. Mary J Damron - August 5, 2022 3:03 pm

    Thank you for the stories of great people we would never know about if not for you. God Bless you for what you do.

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  27. jachanin - August 5, 2022 3:07 pm

    Well said, Sean.

    Reply
  28. Mary Lou Turpin - August 5, 2022 3:44 pm

    I am an old woman 97 in November. I’ve fallen in love with your soul…….and writing ability!

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  29. Grant - August 5, 2022 4:09 pm

    That was a great response Sean.

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  30. Mamacita - August 5, 2022 4:15 pm

    And just like that, in your own inimitable, humble way, you indeed shared your wisdom with Bryson….and all of us.

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  31. youngatheart49 - August 5, 2022 5:56 pm

    Sean, this one hit close to home as my DIL was just given her badge of courage of being in remission for her cancer, I hope Bryson has the best school year!

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  32. Jean McCrady - August 5, 2022 6:24 pm

    I wish I had beaten Jeanie Morelock to those words, and to those of many others who’ve left their comments. The message you gave to Bryson will be with him for a lifetime. The pebble you have dropped in his pond will never stop sending out its ripples to touch the lives of others. Your mind, your heart, and your talent are awesome. My day is not complete until I read your email.

    Reply
  33. MAM - August 5, 2022 7:03 pm

    Sean, you belittle yourself too much. You are a humble man, and it shows through in your writing. But God has given you a huge task that you fulfill with great talent every day. I, as one of many, treasure your wisdom every day. Thank you!

    Reply
  34. tckk - August 5, 2022 8:00 pm

    Bryson, I hope you have a great school year!

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  35. Linda Moon - August 5, 2022 9:09 pm

    When I first saw the title of this post, I knew it would be about a child with cancer…childhood cancer, the worst kind. And then, I remembered Bryson that so many of us got to know through you, Sean. Everything you wrote to Bryson is from my heart, too, especially the return to school cancer free!!

    Reply
  36. Gloria Van Nostrand - August 5, 2022 9:55 pm

    Lovely story about the incredible Bryson. Through your words he has inspired us all. God bless and keep you both! 🙏💙

    Reply
  37. Barbara W McKinley - August 5, 2022 11:23 pm

    How do people send you letters? What address?

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  38. Sherry L Forster - August 5, 2022 11:40 pm

    Sean,
    I thought you would like to know about the recent $1 million donation by Ryan and Nina Day, the Ohio State University football coach and his wife, establishing a fund focused on pediatric and adolescent mental health. Like your family, the Days have been affected by suicide and mental health struggles. https://www.dispatch.com/story/sports/2022/08/03/ohio-state-football-coach-ryan-day-million-dollar-donation-mental-health-fund/10222061002/

    Reply
  39. Eva Marie Everson - August 5, 2022 11:47 pm

    Bryson the Brave. There should be a tee shirt … or a cartoon. Or a miniseries. Or a monument. There should be something.

    Reply
  40. Patti - August 6, 2022 1:41 am

    Amazing letter!

    Reply
  41. Debbie g - August 6, 2022 11:41 am

    How beautiful Sean Love you and Jamie
    And love to us all
    May we all try to do better and be better
    And Bryson. Thank you so much for a beautiful life lesson

    Reply
  42. FD Lester - August 6, 2022 9:17 pm

    Thank you, God!
    Thank you for healing Bryson! Thank you for his witness! And thank you for Sean, for his talent for sharing Your blessings with us. What an amazing thing it is to imagine and be reassured of the power of the prayers of so many for one seventh grader. Please bless him and all the seventh graders and their schools, their teachers, their leaders.
    “Father protect our children, into the world we send them. Keep them always in your care, sheltered in Your love!”

    Reply

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