Rebecca Brimmage didn’t want to mess up her perfect high school attendance record. But by March 2015, the Highland Park sophomore had been experiencing incredible pain throughout her body for three months.
“I never missed a minute of school, so I didn’t want to miss to go to the doctor if it turned out to be nothing,” Brimmage said.
After crying in hysterics from the pain in her legs, Brimmage agreed to see her general doctor. From there, she was sent to Carrell Memorial Clinic where doctors assumed kidney stones were to blame, she said.
“They took a scan and found six tumors. The main tumor is in my pelvis, and it metastasized,” Brimmage said. “They were all in my arms, my spine, my hips, my pelvis, my legs, feet — everywhere.”
Full-body scans revealed legions in almost every bone, she said.
Brimmage was sent to Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, where the doctors took a biopsy of her bone marrow. There, Brimmage was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a bone cancer common to adolescents. “I told two of my best friends first,” Brimmage said. “They went to every one of my treatments and are the most supportive friends I could have ever asked for.”
Brimmage began chemotherapy shortly after her diagnosis and has since been through 14 rounds, alternating between two- and five-day treatments. The therapy made her so weak she dropped around 20 to 30 pounds and couldn’t walk up the stairs, she said.
Additionally, she had 25 days of radiation in the summer. After the first three rounds of chemo, Brimmage began to bounce back quickly, she said. During treatment, she’s remained dedicated to her studies.
“I was really adamant about keeping in school,” Brimmage said. “All my teachers have been so great. Last school year, they helped finish me out of sophomore year early so that this year I was all ready to go.”
Now a junior, Brimmage keeps up her positive attitude by not asking the doctors many questions about her progress, or perhaps digression. She assumes if she’s feeling good one day, that must mean she’s OK, she said.
“It’s easy for me to trust God with my body and my things,” Brimmage said. “For me, I can be OK with it. But for my parents not to be is really hard. That’s my biggest worry.”
After high school, Brimmage hopes to attend university out of state. But she said picking a specific school would require more consideration. “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor since I was little,” Brimmage said. “Going through treatment, I really fell in love with my physician’s assistants. I think that would be a cool job.”
Brimmage still attends a clinical trial every three weeks at Children’s. While she’s not yet cured from Ewing’s Sarcoma, she said she’s gained invaluable lessons throughout her time as a patient.
“I think it’s opened my eyes to a lot of things I would have never known about or realized,” Brimmage said. “I’ve been able to take an experience I would never wish on anybody and have gained so much from it … I’m really appreciative I didn’t have to completely crumble from everything that’s happened, and I don’t think that’s my doing at all. It’s combined from the strength from God and my friends and family.”