When Lyric Rogers fell ill for an extended period of time in the Fall of 2021, he and his family knew that something wasn’t quite right. He was an active 15-year-old who was rarely sick, so a doctor’s appointment was quickly scheduled when he came down with a fever and swollen lymph nodes.
While Lyric’s fever and accompanying muscle aches worsened over time, the results of initial blood tests indicated that everything was normal. However, as Lyric’s mother Angie recalls, worries started to grow when they were asked to come back for additional tests.
“A couple days after we had had perfect blood work, they asked us to come back for more, and we were confused,” Angie says. “The doctor said he wanted to test again just to ensure that everything was fine, and I think they had a hunch by this time as well. By the next day, they called us and said, ‘go to CHEO immediately.’”
On November 4, 2021, Lyric was officially diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
Hearing the unsettling news came as a shock, but Lyric was mentally prepared. He had told his stepfather days prior to his diagnosis that he was certain he had cancer.
“I had a lot of symptoms…the fevers, muscle pain and swollen lymph nodes…I felt very, very ill,” Lyric says. “So, I kind of anticipated that it was cancer.”
After receiving confirmation of his hunch from the team at CHEO, Lyric wasted no time, asking to speak with his oncologist to discuss survival rates and the next steps on his road to recovery.
Watching Lyric deal with this diagnosis and the grueling treatment process that followed only solidified what Angie already knew about her son: that he’s an extremely strong and resilient young man.
“He impressed me with how strong he was to get through this,” Angie says with a smile. “It was almost like he was reassuring me that he was going to be okay.”
Lyric’s positive mindset and his willingness to face the arduous road ahead is even more impressive when considering just how much chemo and radiation children and youth require when dealing with cancer.
“I don’t think people realize how long treatment goes for when kids are treated for cancer,” Angie says. “It’s a lot…it’s a lot that they put them through.”
Lyric felt the brunt of this intense regimen, especially during the first few months. A talented guitarist and singer, he found it hard to go without writing music, playing guitar or performing live.
Aware of this, the team at CHEO planned a unique party for his 16th birthday, an event Lyric recalls with fondness.
“They gave me room 16 for my 16th birthday and it was fully decorated,” Lyric says with a smile. “They then brought me a guitar, so I was able to play a bit while getting a blood transfusion.”
The wonderful treatment that Lyric and his family received at CHEO is one of the main motivations behind his involvement in the 2023 CN Cycle for CHEO event as a McDonald’s Dream Team ambassador.
“Just giving back to CHEO for how much they've done for me, you know, if they want me to do an interview or something like that that might help them out with their promotion…that's kind of the reason why I'm doing it.”
Now 17 years old and approximately halfway through his treatment plan, Lyric is starting to find some semblance of normalcy. While he still goes through some ups and downs, he recently started going back to school regularly, is performing at open mic events and is no longer in need of a walker to get around.
However, his experiences have opened his eyes to the struggles of people with impairments who need adaptive equipment to go about their lives, which is another reason he wanted to share his story.
“I wish people were more adaptive to people with disabilities in public,” Lyric says. “I would have liked it if people could just calm down in hallways and be more considerate of others.”
A strong, resilient and considerate young man, Lyric is the type of person who inspires us all to be more thoughtful and aware.