28 August 2020

Netball helps brave Bryana beat the odds

| Etta McEwan
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Bryana Robinson

Bryana Robinson playing for Arawang Netball Association in the opening round of the 2020 State League. Photo: Ben Southall.

When you’re 20-years-old, beating cancer shouldn’t be top of your to-do list but that’s the situation Arawang goal-defender Bryana Robinson found herself in.

In September 2018, Bryana received the devastating diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, but she hasn’t let that stop her reaching her netball goals.

“I was surprisingly quite brave about it,” Bryana said. “I just remember feeling ‘it is what it is, bring it on’. I wasn’t going to let it hold me back.”

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is considered one of the most treatable cancers, however Bryana’s proved stubborn.

“I have never been in a state of remission, I have never had it completely gone, until now,” she said.

Despite the diagnosis, Bryana continued playing netball for Arawang and The Capital Spirit, as well as coaching the men’s team for Arawang.

“Both Arawang and Capital Spirit were super supportive,” she said. “They didn’t treat me any differently, they still pushed me as much as they would’ve pushed any athlete, which was great.

“The team I coach is awesome. We just laugh about it because they are all older, but every game I am involved with they will send me a message or check-in to see how I am going.”

Arawang Division One Head Coach Kim Symons provided Bryana with the boost she needed to keep netball in her life during her treatment.

“She is an amazing support person and she is so inspiring, understanding and easy to speak to. Honestly, I don’t know how I would have been able to keep going through everything without having her there on the sideline for me,” Bryana said.

“She knows me personally and as an athlete. It is really good to have that relationship with her, not just as a coach telling me to keep going but to make sure I am looking after myself.”

Bryana Robinson against the South Coast Blaze

Bryana Robinson defending the shot during play against the South Coast Blaze. Photo: Nat Hanna.

Netball ACT provided Bryana with the support to continue playing and even funded a few sessions with a sports psychologist. The wider netball community was also supportive.

“They were always an open ear for me, they were willing to sit down with me and always asked what I needed and what they could do for me,” she said.

“Netball was the thing that I would do to keep me happy and keep my mind off all the bad things happening. It kept me positive and uplifted through this whole period.”

Two years on, Bryana is in remission. She had her final round of radiation therapy on 24 August and on 9 September will go through an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant to ensure the cancer is gone.

“I will go through six days of salvage chemotherapy and then, on day seven, I will have my stem cells put back into my system. I will be in hospital for two weeks while my body is recovering and my immune system is building itself back up again,” Bryana said.

“The fact that I can see an end date and have been able to keep playing netball, be surrounded by supportive people and still be so fit, happy and healthy, has been one wicked and wild experience.

“I am ready to get it over and done with and get back on court.”

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