During the Fort Worth AYA Cancer Conference, one of Teen Cancer America’s advocates, Brian Smith, performed his song “So Alone” and answered questions about his treatment as an adolescent with cancer. Music Producer, Kenli Mattus, accompanied Brian during his performance about dealing with the psychological and physical challenges of cancer and recovery. For Brian, the experience of writing about his pain has been cathartic. He described performing at the conference as the best day of his life. This unique opportunity for Brian was made possible by TCA’s music program, Play It Back.
“I learned that Brian is an amazing person who is very open and honest about the personal mountains he’s had to climb. He’s a strong person and a very to-the-point individual who is humble and is starting to discover his talents as a writer and speaker,” said Mattis.
The annual Texas AYA Conference, welcomes pediatric and medical oncologists, hematologists, research scientists, psychologists, nurses, and several health professionals to explore how focusing on AYA’s is the first step in improving outcomes.
“It’s been amazing to watch Brian blossom simply from creating and performing music. I learned I took for granted some of the most healing properties of being a music maker: Community, self-expression and confidence building,” said Mattis. “He plans on making more music and doing more live performances. I see how it has energized him so much. He wants to continue down this path to see where it will take him. We plan on finishing four songs that we’ve started and I will encourage him to do tons more…”
When Brian was in his final semester of college in 2011, at the age of 22, he was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer. It then metastasized to his lung and brain. However, through a rigorous treatment plan, he was back attending classes in the evening. He walked in May 2011, with honors and has been cancer-free since 2012.