FORNEY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Two Forney middle school tennis players have put aside their rackets for now.
Forney seventh grader Bryton Zastoupil said, “I miss miss it quite a lot because there aren’t many sports like it.”
Forney eighth grader Elyse Spurgeon said with laughter, “It’s kinda sad. I didn’t join tennis on my own free will.”
Nor did either kid leave the game by choice.
Bryton thought he had a normal stomach bug last fall — only to be informed in October that it was more serious than that.
Bryton’s mother, Kristin, said, “He looked over and said ‘mom if this is cancer do I get a make a wish.’ I said there’s no way this is cancer. Why would you ask me this?”
Unfortunately, Bryton’s hunch was correct. He acknowledged, “To be honest I didn’t know what leukemia was. I was questioning what it is.”
Good news: his leukemia is in remission and not considered to be aggressive. Bad news: he’ll still have weekly chemo for the next three years.
As the communications director for Forney ISD, Bryton’s mom is happy her son doesn’t have to go it alone.
She says it’s a “Forney family and this district embraces that every single day from the way they care about us. It’s just been unbelievable.”
Bryton’s teammate, Elyse, was diagnosed with leukemia last August.
She admitted “I started crying before I processed it before I knew what was going on.”
Now, Elyse knows her battle has just begun. Her leukemia is really aggressive.
With her voice shaking, she said, “This is my fifth round of chemotherapy. No one of them have worked for me. It’s pretty scary.”
Her dad, the North Forney High School tennis coach, is taking no chances.
The family has taken up part-time residence in Seattle, home of the best bone marrow transplant center in the country, which Elyse will need when her leukemia is finally in remission.
With a shirt that says “Losing Is Not An Option,” David promised, “We’re gonna do whatever we need to do.”
Whether it’s Bryton and Elyse’s middle school tennis coach and staff shaving their heads in support or the Forney swimming program raising funds for their treatment, the two hope to look back on this one day as just a hurdle they had to get over.
At the same time they encourage others to never take good health for granted.
Bryton encouraged kids to “be happy with what you have and take care of what you have with how life works anything can happen.”
Elyse said, “Enjoy the fact that you can. Suddenly everything comes crashing down and the. You’re stuck in a room where you can’t sleep and you miss your family”.
When asked what would she like people to know about her your determination to beat this thing, her answer was “I don’t plan on giving up ever. I’ll do whatever it takes to get past this.”