Brynlee Roberts, left, shares a lighthearted moment with her sister, Josslyn, and mom, Sarah Roberts.
Mike Henneke / The News-Review
For 11-year-old Brynlee Roberts, who underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor last year, laughter really was a great medicine.
Brynlee receives dozens of jokes from benefactors every month.
It all started when her parents, Sara and Eric Roberts, started a Facebook page called Brynlee the Brave to keep friends and family informed of her progress. Unfortunately, as kindly intended as they were, the expressions of condolences posted on the page at the time actually started to bring her down.
‘She had said,’ I don’t want to read sad things anymore. People just have to post jokes and funny things, ” said Brynlee’s mom Sara Roberts.
And they have that too. Today she gets between five and twenty jokes every day.
Brynlee said she especially likes jokes that poke fun at TV shows or that are a bit “ random. ”
A recent favorite photos of flying geese.
“Have you ever noticed that geese fly in av formation, one side is always longer than the other? That’s because there are more geese on that side, ”says the joke.
Another recently posted joke says, “Want to hear a construction joke? Oh never mind, I’m still working on that. “
Another shows a photo of a little boy sitting with his father.
“Daddy, poo trees?” the boy asks.
“Of course. That’s how we get pencils number 2,” says his father.
“Most of the time, Brynlee will roll her eyes and laugh really hard at how bad the daddy jokes that are being shared are,” said Sara Roberts.
Brynlee Roberts is holding a necklace that describes various events from her brain cancer journey.
“They’re getting pretty dumb,” Brynlee agreed.
One of the dumbest, said Brynlee, asked which letter of the alphabet was a pirate’s favorite. The answer, of course, is “Arrr.”
“Some are completely random words. They don’t even count as jokes. I like to say cheese a lot for no reason, ”Brynlee said.
However, the past few months haven’t all been fun and fun for Brynlee. Far from it.
Brynlee’s family first noticed something was wrong when she complained of double vision and sometimes turned her left eye inward. They made an appointment with an ophthalmologist but begged to come in earlier because the left eye was getting worse.
They met the eye doctor on October 30, who found that Brynlee’s optic nerve was swollen, and he immediately sent them to the emergency room for an MRI.
The MRI showed a mass of 5 to 7 cm in her frontal lobe.
They were told to immediately take her to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland for surgery.
The neurosurgeon said they had to run some more tests and assemble the “A team” for surgery.
After that operation on Nov. 2, the doctor said he was able to remove at least 90% of the tumor. He may have gotten it all, Sara Roberts said, since afterwards scans didn’t find anything.
They knew right away that it was cancer, but it took them a month to get an accurate diagnosis through genetic testing. It was a neuroepithilial tumor with embryonic features not otherwise specified.
Brynlee Roberts, center, posed with her family in their backyard last week. To the left are sister, Josslyn, Eric, Sarah and her twin brother, Boyd.
Mike Henneke / The News-Review
Then radiation and chemotherapy rounds began to eradicate any microscopic cancer cells.
“A chemo lasts 28 days, so she goes to the hospital for a five-day admission and does some chemo there, and then we go to Portland twice a week for a short chemo at the office. and then labs, and usually in the first two weeks after that five-day stay is a blood transfusion or platelet transfusion, ”said Sara Roberts.
She said she is so grateful to those who donate blood.
If there is ever a way someone wants to be helpful or do something to help children like my daughter, donating blood is the easiest way. Without that blood my daughter wouldn’t be alive today, ”she said.
As is so often the case with cancer treatment, Brynlee has combated nausea and vomiting, is tired, and has lost her hair.
The hair she seems to have taken.
‘She said,’ I don’t even think I need a wig. I think I look so good. It doesn’t really matter, ” said her mother.
She has two more rounds of chemotherapy to go and if there is no hiccups, she should be done by July. Sara Roberts said her daughter’s doctors say there is about an 85% chance that the cancer will never return.
Brynlee has a twin brother, Boyd, and younger sister, Josslyn. Boyd set out to become a great big brother to Josslyn during this difficult year, Sara Roberts said.
Brynlee started her freshman year of high school as a home school student this year, which she thought was probably more enjoyable than studying online with her former classmates who are now attending Joseph Lane Middle School.
“I have two friends in the area, and they say they have to get up at 6:45 am because the online classes start at 7 and go until 6 at night,” said Brynlee.
Despite everything she’s been through this year, she still likes to be silly.
When a foundation called the Fearless Dreamers, which hires artists to draw children with chronic illnesses, asked how she wanted to be drawn, Brynlee didn’t choose a ballerina, pop star, or superhero.
No, she said she wanted to be drawn like cheese.
“I thought it was super stupid and I didn’t mind telling her that. I said you can be drawn like anything you want and you want to be drawn like cheese? Sara Roberts said.
A portrait of Brynlee Roberts, 11, of Roseburg as a Cheese, from the nonprofit Fearless Dreamers.
Brynlee said she wanted to be pictured wearing a cheese hat and cheese shirt, with the cheese raining all around her.
“They said it was their favorite piece of art to do because it was so random, and they really had to use their creative juices to come up with something. And so when they sent me the picture I actually started crying because it was Brynlee screaming. It looks exactly like her. Everything just made sense, ”Sara Roberts said.