At 22 years young, Bryanna graduated college with a chemical engineering degree...and survived cancer.
At 17, Bryanna Barriere was doing what most teenagers that age do. She was a senior in high school with lots of friends and was planning for college. Next thing she knew, she was diagnosed with cancer and her entire world changed.
Active and otherwise healthy, Bryanna hadn’t paid much attention to a lump that appeared just under her chin line since it wasn’t causing any pain or discomfort. When her mother became aware of it, she insisted Bryanna have it checked out – just to be on the safe side.
An exam and tests revealed a tumor the size of a golf ball. Surgery was immediately scheduled and the tumor and her salivary glands removed. Shortly afterward, lab results came back with stunning news: Bryanna had stage 1 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Cancer of the Lymph System
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one form of cancer of the lymph system, which is part of your immune system. In cases of Hodgkin's lymphoma, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond the lymphatic system. As Hodgkin's lymphoma progresses, it compromises your body's ability to fight infection.
“It was scary at first,” Bryanna admitted, but her family rallied around her.
Bryanna’s grandmother, Lucille Barriere, recommended Bryanna be treated at Kelsey-Seybold’s Main Campus Cancer Center, where Lucille had been treated for breast cancer.
Kelsey-Seybold Cancer Care
Bryanna and her mother took Lucille’s advice and Bryanna was soon under the care of a board-certified Hematology/Oncology specialist.
Bryanna's oncologist prescribed eight rounds of chemotherapy treatment at Kelsey-Seybold’s Infusion Center.
“Those were tough. I had to come for three hours for each round of chemo every other week,” Bryanna. “But the nurses and staff were all so nice. They knew me by name, were very reassuring and made sure I was comfortable. Anything I needed, they were there for me.”
Although bothered by nausea and fatigue, Bryanna was able to continue with school throughout her entire treatment. She had to give up playing on the basketball team, but was still able to serve on the senior class board as senior class secretary. She told her best friend about her cancer diagnosis only after she’d completed treatment, so none of her classmates really knew what she was going through.
Personal Care and Support
“My mom, dad, stepmom, two sisters and grandmother were there with the support I needed. And I kept telling myself that everything would work out,” Bryanna recalled.
Her oncologist was encouraging and empathetic, which also made a difference in Bryanna’s care and recovery.
“I loved her! My oncologist was the sweetest, most kind lady. She was more than a doctor. She always took time out to ask about what I was doing in school and was genuinely interested in me as a person outside of the Kelsey Cancer Center,” Bryanna said.
Now 22, Bryanna is about to enter her senior year of college at Prairie View A&M and planning to graduate next year with a degree in chemical engineering. She is cancer free and embracing the future.
Her advice to other teenagers and young adults is to “pay attention to your body. Don’t wait if you see something that’s not right. It might be something small but it might be something big – you just never know. You have to act on it.”