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News | Feb. 17, 2017

Cancer survivor celebrates life on open road

By DCMA International, Ottawa DCMA International, Ottawa

When John Bryant was diagnosed with cancer, it was the beginning of a wild ride one that he now continues on his Harley Davidson. 

Bryant is a quality assurance specialist working for Defense Contract Management Agency International Americas. He is part of a small team providing quality oversight to more than 200 contractor facilities throughout Canada.

In the summer of 2015, after a routine visit to the doctor, he faced a major life decision.

Having never been a patient in a hospital before, he and his wife were shocked when their doctor diagnosed Bryant with stage-four Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

“Nothing’s guaranteed,” said Bryant. “I had never been admitted to a hospital before, ever, and there I am in the hospital for over 10 weeks.”

After receiving the news, Bryant tried to lighten the mood. Throughout their marriage, his wife would not let her husband ride a motorcycle because of the inherent risks. Jokingly, Bryant asked, now that he was facing a life-threatening disease, would she let him get one?

She replied if he beat it, he could have his motorcycle. Bryant figured she was also joking. “I never suspected she would do it.”

After the diagnosis, Bryant and his wife began to understand the challenges of the disease and what it would take to endure the harsh effects of the treatments. Undeterred, Bryant set his focus on getting healthy and returning to work.

One major challenge was his mobility. The tumor made it hard to get around and his job required regular travel across a swath of land comparative to the width of the United States.

The international assignment far from his home in Memphis, Tennessee was already hard enough on family and friends. The Bryants quickly realized the cancer was magnifying their stresses.

“We immediately began to discuss leaving and going home for treatments.” Bryant said. “I worried about being able to pull my weight, for the team and the contract management office, during treatment. I had that concern along with trying to beat cancer.”

After talking with his supervisors. Bryant’s leadership assured him it was his choice to stay or to return home, but his team would step up while he was out and they only wanted him to focus on getting better.

With the support of his team, Bryant and his wife made the decision to stay, a choice neither regrets.

“I do not think we could have made a better decision.” Bryant said. “The treatments were difficult but went as well as could be expected. The CMO office here is absolutely filled with extraordinary people. Everyone here treated my wife and I as family. We honestly could not have made it through this traumatic situation if not for all of the wonderful people at DCMA Americas.”

Fast forward to July 2016. Almost one year after his initial diagnosis, Bryant’s cancer was in remission. Along with most of his DCMA America’s co-workers, he attended a July Fourth celebration hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to Canada.

Without Bryant knowing, his wife had coordinated a special presentation to take place during the celebration.

With over 5,000 attendees, she presented him with a Harley Davidson Breakout motorcycle as her gift for Bryant’s successful battle against cancer.

“It was an honor for DCMA Americas being able to share that moment with John and his wife, considering their remarkable journey and overwhelming dedication,” said DCMA Americas deputy director, Army Lt. Col. Isaac Williams.

Even now, Bryant’s adventure continues on two wheels, the open road and special instructions from Williams, “Please wear a helmet John.”


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