Originally from Salt Lake City, Phil Bryant has lived with his wife, Kelly, and five children in Lake Stevens, Washington for 16 years. Phil turned the BIG 40 on November 27 and celebrated with his four sons and daughter; Their ages range from 22 to twin boys who are 13.
After serving in the Navy Phil started working at Boeing where he met his wife. He had always been an active person but felt there was a better way that he could be exercising. That was when he discovered CrossFit. Phil started CrossFit approximately 3 years ago at Snohomish CrossFit but now works out at Mountain Loop CrossFit in Lake Stevens, Washington.
Last August Phil and his family traveled to Utah to help Phil’s sister recover from Pancreatic Cancer surgery. After he returned to Washington in mid-September he started experiencing stomach pain. He had a CT scan which showed a suspicious malignancy in his colon.
It was discovered that Phil had a rare, aggressive type of colon cancer called Adeno Carcinoma. This aggressively growing cancer usually spreads to the liver in 6-8 months. Most forms of colon cancer is slow growing and don’t develop for at least 5-10 years, but Phil’s cancer or situation, was not typical. Phil and his sister have Lynch Syndrome, a genetic condition which increases someone's chances of getting cancer by 82%. Having a diagnoses like Lynch Syndrome is scary, but it has increased their knowledge of genetic testing as it relates to cancer and the need to have their children tested, as well to learn if they have inherited the condition.
With five children total and three still living at home the entire family has been Phil’s support system throughout his diagnosis and treatment. His daughter has taken it the hardest, but the family is staying strong to support everyone involved with his diagnosis. According to Phil’s wife “He has been super positive and hasn’t let the kids see how hard it really is.” “He handles it really well”. Kelly’s role is “keeping things moderate.” So she tries not to take the good news too high or the bad news too low. She says, “It is hard” “You feel so helpless. There is nothing you can do.” The downside of Lynch Syndrome is the increased risk of cancer. But the upside is that people with his syndrome respond well to chemo. Phil says that he is “Optimistic for my kids. They can put preventative plans in place. So they can reduce their chances of getting it even if they carry the gene.”
The family feels very confident with his care. They don’t second guess the doctors even though the first oncologist was not confident in his treatment but the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance took on the challenge. Both Phil and Kelly feel very fortunate in the quality of his care.
Phil feels that by focusing on his health, all these years, has set him up to fight this diagnosis. Being physically fit has prepared his body to better to handle the chemo. He has used his knowledge gained in the gym and years of eating right to keep his weight and energy up during the chemo treatments. “I’ve lived 40 years” “I feel fortunate to have lived this long being so healthy and that I am young enough to fight it.”
Both gyms have been amazing in their support of Phil during this time. They have brought meals and whatever they needed. “They get really excited when they see me hit the gym and take walks.”
It is a huge success that he was able to have the surgery in January. He took a leave of absence from work to focus on staying healthy through his chemo treatments. Because he stayed so healthy he he was able to get a necessary surgery in January. His recovery has been more challenging than he expected, But Phil is a CrossFitter and even though there is a different chemo treatment available, he continues to receive a very challenging course of chemo.
As of April, Phil recovered from surgery and is working to complete his post op treatment. With four rounds of chemo left the Pathology report came back indicating that the cancer cells removed from the liver were dead and the 42 lymph nodes removed showed no signs of cancer...which was the best news! His doctors feel confident that they got all visible cancer. After his last round of chemo, they’ll scan to establish a new baseline and check him every three months for the next two years.