Born: January 4, 2001
Diagnosed: January 22, 2016
Died: December 23, 2017
– Strong – Courageous – Inspiring – Loving – Unforgettable –
Mom, Kim, remembers: “Brison had a passion for life! He had big hopes & dreams and was always willing to put in the work to make them happen! Brison was awarded best offensive player of the year, as a freshman, on the Cedar Springs boys varsity soccer team. He placed second in the state in both dirt bike classes that he raced, the year prior to diagnosis. He also enjoyed basketball and was on the A basketball team the year prior. He was driven and always strived to be the best he could be, not matter what he was doing. Brison was outgoing, humorous, a good student, a leader amongst his peers, and loved by all that knew him. His faith was a big part of who he was and that faith never wavered, he shared that with others especially through his battle, bringing others to accept Jesus into their life, his legacy!”
Mom (Kim), Dad (Brian), and brother Preston want to share Brison’s story because: “Brison was such a special young man and he was taken way too soon. He had a lifetime of goals and dreams ahead of him, that will never take place. He will never grow up and be the amazing man we all know he would have been. He fought so hard for his life, he suffered so greatly during his battle, losing the things we all take for granted one by one. His ability to walk, move, talk, eat, hear, see, and lastly breath. This disease is horrific and no child should have to go through this and no parent should have to watch this happen to their precious child! Brison has made us forever Rickerstong and in his honor, we will share his story, we will advocate, and bring as much awareness to DIPG as possible, so we can together work towards a cure!”
Brison was a happy, athletic, well-liked teen with a strong faith in Jesus Christ. Before his symptoms began in the fall of 2015, he loved riding dirt bikes with brother Preston, and playing soccer. Brison raced motocross and supercross, and came in second place in the state for the two classes he raced in. He also was on the Varsity soccer team as a freshman that fall and voted offensive player of the year.
Brison also loved to run. In 2012, he won first place for boys in the 55m dash at Cedar View, as well as first place in the 100m dash for 11-12-year old boys at the Hershey Track and Field meet that summer.
Brison’s symptoms started around Thanksgiving 2015—dizziness and blurred vision. By January he had a diagnosis of DIPG, which is nearly always fatal and lacks an effective treatment, according to Stanford University.
According to a news article from Stanford’s medicine news, DIPG affects 200-400 school-aged children in the United States each year and has a five-year survival rate of less than 1 percent; half of patients die within nine months of diagnosis. Radiation gives only a temporary reprieve from the tumor’s growth. In addition, it is inoperable.
By June of 2016, their oncologist advised them to bring in hospice because there was nothing more they could do. It was then that Kim and Brian sought alternative treatment for Brison through the Burzynski Clinic. However, it was not covered by insurance. And the community then began to put on numerous fundraisers to try to help the Rickers fund the expenses related to Brison’s treatment—fundraisers which continued through this Christmas season.
By December 2016, the Rickers found that Preston also had cancer—not DIPG but thyroid cancer, for which he underwent conventional treatment.
Brison had a lot of ups and downs medically, but the treatment did shrink the tumor and the area where it was located (the pons) eventually became scar tissue. Unfortunately, the cancer eventually spread to his spleen and other parts of his brain.
Toward the end, he could not hear or see, and had become unresponsive. The Rickers called in hospice last week, and a prayer vigil was held at their home on Friday evening, December 22.
Brison then passed away on Saturday morning. “He fought so hard until the end, he had big dreams with the determination, perseverance, and talent to make those dreams come true and he did not want to leave this earth,” Kim wrote on her Facebook page. “Brison had unwavering faith until the end and believed he would be healed. Now he is playing soccer and racing dirt bikes in heaven.”
She also thanked those who have supported them. “Thank You to everyone who has provided love and support to our family over the past 23 months since Brison was diagnosed. Our mission to save him did not end with success, but because of so many of you who selflessly gave we were able to provide treatment that extended his life and time with us for an extra 18 months. We made so many memories during that time. He celebrated is 16th birthday, he went to high school dances, we went on vacations, and became closer than ever before. That is time our family will always be grateful for.”