IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — A Navy veteran and cancer patient is inspiring a university community as he works to earn his degree despite a grim diagnosis.
Bryan Fazio, who will turn 26 on Tuesday, has battled Hodgkins lymphoma for four years. The cancer went into remission once before but has since returned.
Despite word from doctors that his chance of survival was slim, Fazio applied to earn his MBA at Brandman University and will soon complete his degree.
“I’ve seen him in the hospital with his laptop, turning in homework assignments, laying there with tubes all in him and his little bald head, and dropping him off for school when he doesn’t feel well,” said Fazio’s mother, Sheryl Silver.
“He just keeps pushing through,” she said.
In February, Fazio was given nine months to live. He chose to triple his course load to ensure that he would earn his degree, even as he underwent chemotherapy and other treatments.
“There are two different ways that I can go down,” Fazio said. “Am I going to be the victim and give up, or am I going to take it head on and keep moving forward?”
Fazio, who is eight weeks away from completing his degree, recently walked in graduation.
“He’s just a remarkable guy,” said Dr. Helen Eckmann, who said there wasn’t a dry eye in the house on graduation day.
“There were thousands of people there and everybody was crying.”
“To me I haven’t allowed cancer to be a burden,” Fazio said. “My cancer’s a part of me but I’ve embraced it. And it’s not a burden, it’s actually a blessing in my life.”
The university announced that a scholarship has been created and named after Fazio, to help his fellow veterans and share his inspirational story with future Brandman students. The scholarship will be awarded to an ill or wounded veteran attending the university beginning next fall.