LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. — In 2020, before COVID shutdown all high school sports, Central Valley’s Brandon Thomas went out for the track team. It was his first time going out for track and he did it because the sophomore All-GSL linebacker wanted to get faster for football.
Turns out it was a decision that helped save his life.
“I felt kind of empty. I didn't really have any words," said Brandon of the moment he received his diagnosis.
His ankle began hurting at practice and after two weeks of resting it, it wasn't getting any better.
Thomas got scheduled to see an orthopedic surgeon, thinking perhaps he had fractured his ankle.
The news though was much more shocking-- So shocking that the doctor thought Brandon and his family had already been told.
“He said today must have been a rough day for you, and we had no clue what he meant," recalled Brandon. "Then he started to explain that I had cancer in my leg. That was definitely, hopefully, the roughest news I will ever hear in my life.”
“We weren't prepared for that diagnosis. I mean so much so that I didn't even go. I wasn't even at the appointment,” said Brandon's dad Devon.
Brandon was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his ankle, the same bone cancer that took West Valley’s Jace Malek a few years ago.
“In that moment, I'll never forget Brandon looking at me and just saying, ‘If I have to lose my foot, it's okay. I just want to live,'” said Brandon's mom Melanie.
Brandon’s statement eventually became a reality.
The doctors told him that it was a possible to keep his lower leg, but that even walking may be difficult if he chose to do so.
As an avid football player, that just wasn’t an option for Brandon.
“You have to be determined for sure to keep with that choice," Brandon said of deciding to amputate his leg. "You’ve got to make sure you believe in your heart that this is the right choice, and you have to stick with it.”
Thankfully, Brandon’s determination to stick with everything over the last year led him to the phrase he wanted to hear: You’re in remission.
That’s more than enough for his dad.
“In this moment if I yell, ‘Hey Brandon!’ He answers and chief among the things that I need is 1. Be cancer free," said Devon.
But Brandon has dreams past overcoming cancer.
Before his diagnosis, he was on track to play collegiate football as he was a first team all-GSL linebacker his sophomore year.
Cancer, and his prosthetic, hasn’t changed Brandon’s goals.
“It would mean a lot. I've always wanted to play college football, and the NFL has always been my dream. It would mean that all my hard work paid off,” said Brandon.
If there’s one thing Brandon has proven over and over again in his life, and once again through his cancer journey: Do not doubt him.
“In third grade, he said he was going be a superhero when he grew up. That's kind of his personality. He's been this little superhero. I wouldn't bet against the kid in anything, frankly. So if he says he's going to make it, I'm just going to buy tickets now,” said Devon.
“As a parent, you're just going, ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to destroy him.’ Then when he rose to that challenge like he has everything else in his life, you've got to take a moment and look at each other and go, ‘Why would we expect anything less?’” said Melanie.
And Brandon doesn’t expect anything less of himself in his life after the last year either.
“I want to show people that I can do great things," said Brandon.