Football Player With Cancer Inspires Community
FULTON - Corey Bryant is a fan of Superman.
"I'm kind of a nerd about it," Bryant said, laughing.
But the superhero isn't his only interest. Football comes a close second. In fact, a year ago, Bryant was a starting offensive lineman for Westminster College in Fulton. But for what would have been his final homecoming as a player this year, he was on the sidelines.
At first, Bryant just thought he was hurt, complaining of back soreness. Then, groin pain set in, and when he became very ill and constantly throwing up, he was rushed to Boone Hospital on September 10. The next day, doctors told Bryant he had testicular cancer.
"I was like, 'I'm 22 years old and I have cancer,'" Bryant said.
"It was overwhelming," Eddie Bryant, Corey's father said. "I dropped to my knees."
"My world just fell. I never even thought one of my children would have cancer," Kim Bryant, Bryant's mother said. "I just lost it."
Doctors removed one of Bryant's testicles. Now, instead of waking up for morning football practice, Bryant gets up for chemotherapy.
"You get light-headed and wheezy and lose your appetite," Corey Bryant said.
But this man of steel isn't worried about the pain.
"It's not the treatment that's bad," Corey Bryant said. "It's sitting around and thinking about it. It's my senior year of college, you know, I should be having fun, finishing up school, and I'm not. I'm here. Sitting in my house. Trying to live the next day. And it's tough."
"I tell him Kryptonite brought Superman down, and cancer is yours, but you can beat it," Eddie Bryant said.
"When we were in the hospital, [his doctor] saw his phone and he started saying 'we're going to get you back to Superman,'" Kim Bryant said. "'You're going to be Superman by the time we're done with you.'"
When word of the cancer hit the school, the football star and president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chapter at Westminster instantly had help.
"We all say we're family, and Corey is one of our brothers," John Welty, Westminster's head football coach said. "When one of them hurts, we all hurt."
Welty said Westminster's Touchdown Club and Westminster Residence Life decided to design shirts with the help of Corey's brother, Kyle, who also plays football at the school, and sell them to raise money to pay Corey's cancer treatment. The shirts say "BryantStrong" on the back and have a fitting "CB" inside of a Superman logo on the front.
And the shirts were just the beginning of Corey Bryant's support.
"We're getting calls from people we don't even know," Kim Bryant said. "His elementary school doing a fundraiser for him, a superhero day."
"We haven't had to cook hardly or nothing," Eddie Bryant said. "Everybody's helped out a lot, you know, it's overwhelming support. I never thought it'd be like this. I think that's what brought him around and keeps Corey up."
"People say 'Oh, you haven't changed a bit,'" Corey Bryant said. "Well why would I? I'm going to stay positive."
Now, when Corey has time to think, it's not of possible death, but about his future.
"It's something I've got to beat and I'm going to, and how long it takes is how long it takes," Bryant said. "But I'm not going to get down on myself. I'm gonna stay positive, do what the doctors tell me and beat it."
He may not be more powerful than a locomotive or faster than a speeding bullet, but to those who've met him and even some who haven't, Corey Bryant is Superman.
Corey's family has set up a Facebook page here that has updates on his health.