Mother of an Angel 👼🏽

I never thought or ever imagined, I would be a mother of an angel.
In 2014, I had front row seats to watch my 6 year old son die in a hospital bed, during a vicious fight against blood cancer.
In the early stages of grief, everything is unreal, it’s excruciating and unbearable to say the least.
Everyday I cried out for my son, screaming, ” I want you back! I need you here with me! I need to see you! I need to feel you! I need your hugs and kisses! I wanna hold you, please come back!”
I miss that warm sweet, tender, silly, funny, physical little boy. His physical presence is what my heart desires and it’s painful not to have him here. It’s just so hard for my heart to understand.
It’s just not normal.
As time passes by, I realized that although my son is not physically here, I have continued to mother him in a supernatural way everyday.
In a way that I continue to learn from him, continue to love on him, still continue to talk to him and grow with him. He still makes mommy proud and makes mommy smile. I’m still his mother, he is still my son.
I learned to take pride in the fact that I was chosen to be Bryant’s mommy, the mother of an Angel on earth. I was given this sacred gift, this special love that will forever be mine.
The only way to see my son again is by doing all things with God. That’s our main goal as a family now, to make it to the finish line and meet our boy Bryant in his new home, in God’s Kingdom.

Karla Betancourt
Bryant’s mom 4ever

Sending a Happy New Year’s note all the way to heaven…

Its been 5 New Years that I’ve survived without my son Bryant, he would be 11 years old now.

I can only imagine everything Bryant would be doing today. I’m sure he would be taking charge and running the Bryantstrong Foundation, working the toy drives, speaking at events & raising awareness. That was our plan, Bryant and I had talked about helping other kids through our non profit organization. He had so many goals.

Everything was so promising and we only had 1 week left for his counts to go back up…. But they never did, instead he relapsed and the leukemia cells came back. Everything after that went down hill real quick. Bryant had no fault in this, he loved God and we had so many plans for his life.

But that was not God’s plan. Apparently God had bigger plans for my 6 year old, Bryant. This year I wrote a New Years note to my 3 boys. I texted Stewie and Karlo but I had no where to send Bryant’s note, so I’m releasing it on this blog…

“Bryant, Happy New Year in heaven. I’m so proud of you. You made it to the finish line so fast. I know your race had many tough obstacles on the way and painful moments at the end, but you finished like a true champ and I’m so proud of you. It’s been over 5 new years that I had to ring in without you. I have missed you every millisecond of every day, since I last saw your angel face. Sharing your amazing journey, not only helps me but also continues to bring smiles to kids fighting that monster and also their families. Thank you for being the light that brightens my path. You are the reason I am a better person today. You completely changed our lives and I’m so grateful to have the privilege to be your mother forever and ever. I have no doubt that you are rejoicing in God’s Kingdom and I’m also sure that you are helping Him prepare a room for me. I’ll see you on the other side baby de mami, I love you forever Bryant the lion.”

From Mommy

“This made her day.  And will forever be a sweet memory.” 

“Audrey got an awesome and very generous gift box today from Bryantstrong. We are very thankful for them and their donation to her as we go through this long journey of fighting childhood cancer.  This made her day.  And will forever be a sweet memory.  I’m grateful for organizations like this who help make the kids fight a little bit gentler and take their mind off of things.   Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” -From the Jones Family

Baby Audrey is our 2019 Bstrong Kids Project recipient of a $500 Check to help with extra expenses childhood cancer brings and a BBox for Audrey, full of fun and cool things she can enjoy during her battle against Retinoblastoma. They have a long journey ahead of them, so please keep healing prayers their way. Together we are stronger. No one fights alone.

Thank you again to every single person who continues to donate to the #BryantstrongFoundation
With your help we are able to bless kids battling cancer, like baby Audrey and her family.

Joshua wants to be an Oncology Nurse when he grows up…

He is brave, courageous and has a heart of gold.

Today we we had the blessing to deliver some gifts and a Bryantstrong check for $500 to our Bstrong Kid Project recipient, Joshua Ribeiro and his family.

Josh is 13 years old and has been battling Leukemia for a little over one year. Josh truly understands the reality of Childhood Cancer and how important it is to raise awareness. He is super smart, very mature and a respectful kid. He told us that when he grows up he wants to be an Oncology Nurse and soon he will be CPR certified. He also shared with us that if he had the choice of $1 million or to raise awareness for Childhood Cancer, he would choose raising awareness.

How amazing is he!!!!

Josh is always willing to participate in speaking engagements to share his journey through Childhood Cancer and offered to help us with our future toy drives. We are very thankful to his family for the thoughtful gifts they gave us and for even opening the doors to their home.

We are also very thankful to all the Bryantstrong supporters and donors, because of you all we are able to give back and bless kids like Joshua and his family.

#TogetherWeAreStronger #NoOneFightsAlone

Meet Baby Audrey

About 6 years ago Lydia’s teenage daughter Rachael, passed away after complications from a bone marrow disease, Severe Aplastic Anemia. This year on May 24th, her granddaughter Audrey Mae Jones at just 7 months old, was diagnosed with Bilateral Retinoblastoma.

Retinoblastoma (Rb) is a rare form of cancer that rapidly develops from the immature cells of a retina, the light-detecting tissue of the eye. It is the most common primary malignant intraocular cancer in children, and it is almost exclusively found in young children.

Audrey’s mom Jennifer, tells us she took her baby girl to a pediatric eye doctor because her left eye was veering to the side. They simply thought their baby girl would come home with an eye patch or baby glasses. Instead, that day baby Audrey’s parents also heard the words, “Your child has cancer.” They received the devastating diagnosis—cancer in both eyes. The tumor in the right eye was about a third of the eye space; the tumor in the left eye, however, took up almost the entire eye space.

There have been many ups and downs—immunodeficiency, neutropenia,  pain after treatment, port placement problems, respiratory issues, fevers, vomiting/diarrhea, trips to the ER. It’s been six months of monthly systemic chemo, laser and/or cryotherapy treatments, followed by almost monthly scans under anesthesia to see what progress or changes were occurring after each treatment.

As of right now, baby Audrey’s tumors are considered ‘inactive.’ Despite this, her tumors are still there and will always be there. We pray they will not become active again, but that chance hangs over her. At this point, the main objective is to try to save the structure of the eyes, especially the left eye. She has less sight in her left, at this point, than her right eye.

Through it all, 14 month old Audrey has been a warrior. She has managed many days to soldier through and her shining little personality has won the hearts of everyone. She is so brave for one so small.

Her family, once again is phasing another fatal disease. Her brother, Jack, is 4 years old. He is a good big brother to her, but he doesn’t quite understand the gravity of her illness and gets jealous at times because of all the attention given her. Her mom, Jennifer, quit work to take care of a sick child, and her dad, Ian is the only breadwinner at this time. Needless to say, this family is stretched emotionally, physically, and financially.

We are truly honored to be able to assist this family, in memory of their beloved Rachael Davies💜.

Meet 13 year old Joshua

About 1 year ago our Bstrong Kid was fighting for his life.

On October 19th, 2018 at the age of 12,

Joshua Ribeiro was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Childhood (ALL) it’s a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). Signs of ALL include fever and bruising.

His mom tells us, it all started with flu like symptoms which lead to his diagnosis. By then, the Leukemia had attacked his liver and Josh was not able start the typical protocol cancer treatments. They first had to heal his liver before they could start chemo. The first five months of chemotherapy treatment were extremely hard and he was sick every day. He couldn’t even get out of bed without throwing up. It took tons of medications to figure out what cocktail finally worked for him. By the grace of God on day 29th of treatment he went into remission. However, Josh will have to continue to take cancer treatments for 3 years.

Joshua missed out on all 6th grade and has suffered secondary side effects including memory loss, anxiety, depression and some days he is still feeling nauseous and sick due to all the medications. Through all this Joshua continues to be a vibrant boy who loves to make everyone laugh and loves to be the center of attention. Right now he is in the  second block of maintenance. With the support of his family, prayers and his amazing positive attitude, Josh will get through this journey.