I was diagnosed with stage 5 Wilms Tumor, a kidney cancer, when I was 6 years old. I’ve had recurrences when I was 10, 13, 16, and 17-18 years old. I’ve had tumors in my spinal cord, lungs, kidney, liver and diaphragm. I’m now 19 years old. Through it all, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital has been there helping me fight.
During my treatment, I was part of a genetic sequencing study at Mott where researchers broke apart my DNA to help personalize my treatment plan specifically to me and my cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation do not work on my tumors, but the Mott team was able to put me in a clinical trial based on what they learned from the gene sequencing, and I’m now living comfortably on the new personalized medication. It’s given me a new chance to live and make a difference.
While I was in my third battle with cancer, I was very sick. I had a stem cell transplant and was even in a coma for a while. I was not expected to live, but I did and I fought through it. Then, on my fourth go around, it was really hard on me emotionally. I wasn’t sure how much more I could take. I was depressed and tired of fighting.
That’s when one of my friends, Nate Smith, really stepped up and encouraged me. He made shirts using my initials that said “DC Strong.” He sold them to friends and at school and used the money to buy things to help lift my spirits so I could keep fighting. That was the beginning of our organization DC Strong.
After I got better, we revamped DC Strong and focused on our mission to help other childhood cancer patients. Cancer is a huge physical battle, but it’s also a mental one. I mentor younger patients to help renew their hope and find the strength to fight. Cancer steals your childhood when you’re constantly surrounded by sickness and sadness. DC Strong tries to help kids remember what it’s like to be happy and healthy. That helps them in their fight.
DC Strong also puts together care packages for kids and takes them out on a dream day. One girl loves animals, so we arranged for her to spend the day at a vet clinic. Another boy loves cars, so we spent the day at a racetrack where he could see and ride in some awesome exotic cars.
I believe this is what I’m supposed to do with my life. I’m here so I can help others fight their own battle with cancer. My friends and I aren’t medical researchers finding new treatments, but we, too, have a role to play to help kids who are fighting to Block Out Cancer. We can help kids find the strength to fight.
Take the next steps:
- Discover how you can play a part in the fight to Block Out Cancer.
- Learn more about Wilms Tumor and how it’s treated.
- Find out about Pediatric Cancer Research at Mott Children’s Hospital.
- Learn more about Dustan’s organization, DC Strong.
Dustan Colyer lives with his mom and two sisters in Plainwell, Mich. He and three friends, Nate Smith, Zach Verhage and Larry Gonzalez, are the brains and backbones behind DC Strong.
Block Out Cancer is a rallying cry for people from all walks of life to come together to support the fight against children’s cancers. Everyone has a role to play. Learn more about how you can help Block Out Cancer.
University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” in 2014, and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine.