This Brisbane dad-of-two was just seven years old when he found out that the pain in his right knee that left him limping was caused by a bone cancer called Osteosarcoma, and required immediate surgery and chemotherapy.
“I had no idea what was going on, I was just too young to understand,” remembers Bryce, who says thankfully that he didn’t “fathom” what it meant at the time, and figured it was just like having a cough or a cold.
“It hit my parents more than me.”
Bryce, 34, is the son of a fifth generation dairy farmer from Koyuga on the Murray Plains in northern Victoria, but spent the better part of 18 months of his childhood in the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.
With his parents trying to keep the dairy farm running, and raise their other four children in a small town three hours’ drive from the hospital, it was a difficult time for the entire family, not least of all because of the terrifying cancer diagnosis.
Thankfully a wonderful Victorian charity called Challenge, which supports kids and families living with cancer by providing free accommodation for families and unique experiences and activities for the kids in hospital, stepped in to help.
“They would bring celebrities and other people into the hospital to take your mind away from the current situation,” explains Bryce, who was the envy of all his young mates when he met visiting US basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal.
When he was well enough he was also gifted a once-in-a-lifetime trip to America where he and other children living with cancer were treated like VIPS. But it was the comradery and support he received through Challenge that made an even bigger impression on Bryce.
Challenge also hosted regular camps and weekends away where children diagnosed with cancer got to compare life experiences with “like-minded kids” and receive counselling to help them recover and adjust to life after their ordeals.
Even all these years later Bryce, who is now married to beautiful Kerrin, 32, and the proud dad of four-year-old Daxton and eight-week-old Banks on top of working in his dream job at Amazon, has never forgotten how much Challenge changed his life.
And now he’s returning the favour, volunteering as a counsellor at their camps for kids living with cancer, and selling merchandise to raise funds for Challenge, despite juggling a demanding career and two very active sons of his own.
“To give those kids hope and inspiration in such a dark place is incredibly rewarding,” he says.
“I understand as a 10-year-old that to be told you have 12 months to live can put you in an incredibly dark place where you don’t see hope. I lived that and I know all about that. As a camp counsellor, I’m living proof cancer is not the end, merely the beginning!”
Bryce, who made a full recovery from bone cancer, continues to pay it forward, and has found his team at Amazon and Amazon itself incredibly supportive with the company donating $US10,000 to the charity and his workmates buying merchandise.
“I’m blessed to work with such an amazing team at Amazon’ Brisbane fulfilment centre who have gotten behind me to raise money for Challenge and make a real difference to kids facing cancer,” he says.
To find out more about Challenge, and to donate go to www.challenge.org.au