Synchronized swimmer refuses to quit after cancer diagnosis – NBC4 Washington

Nyla Brannin knew her dream was to become an Olympic swimmer when she was six years old.

“I needed something to do after school. I was in the pool and my mom saw that they were doing diving trials and there were synchronized swimmers where they were diving,” Brenin said. “They had make-up and shiny costumes and they were listening to music and laughing together. I thought I wanted to do this instead.”

“It seemed like a family, and I joined, and I’ve been on the same team for 13 years now, coaching and everything.”

18-year-old Branin in the midst of synchronized swimming.

And since then, A native of West Boca Raton did everything in her power to stay in the water – even after a sudden diagnosis that changed her life completely.

Brenin, 18, secured a spot on the University of Florida’s synchronized swimming team and was slated to participate in the school’s First Year Honors Program (FHP) before she received the devastating news in October 2021: she had cancer.

Six-time Junior Olympian

Brannin began her swimming career quite young, and since then, the strong-willed athlete has qualified for the Junior Olympic Games six times. Her first Junior Olympic competition was in 2014 at the age of 10, and her personal best was achieved in 2019.

“My personal best was in 2019 when our team finished second at the Youth Olympics,” Brannin said. “We got medals!”

Brenin has traveled all over the country for the wide variety of competitions she has competed in, including Seattle, North Carolina, Texas, New York, Colorado and Missouri for the USA Artistic Swimming Convention.

Branyn also captained her local Palm Beach Coralytes, a synchronized swimming team for ages 5-18 located in Delray Beach, and now coaches the team weekly.

Brannin and Carolita Palm Beach.

That day everything changed

In 2018, four years before her diagnosis, Brannin was diagnosed with endometriosis, which is a condition in which the cells that normally line the uterus begin to grow on the outside of the organ.

Endometriosis produced 16 tumors in the lower abdomen that required removal. After surgery to remove it in October 2021, Branin was officially diagnosed with stage three rhabdomyosarcoma, or RMS. She was also told she had a rare genetic mutation, DICER1 syndrome, which increases her susceptibility to cancer.

RMS it is an aggressive form of cancer in which malignant cells form inside muscle tissue. It usually starts in the muscles attached to the bones, eventually affecting organs such as the bladder or uterus.

Brannin’s senior year of high school, usually the most memorable year for teenagers as they prepare to head off to college, was swept from under her feet. She spent most of her nights in the hospital befriending other cancer patients while most people her age were packing and preparing for college.

In just eight months, the swimmer underwent six courses of chemotherapy and additional surgery until July 2022.

Always about water

Brannin didn’t necessarily plan to fall in love with artistic swimming, but that’s exactly what happened when she first saw synchronized swimmers at a local pool. From then on, she knew that this was her path.

“I needed something to do after school because school ended early and it was a long way from home,” Brannin explained.

“I didn’t have a goal to get up (after the diagnosis), but I knew the pool would always be there on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, so it gave me a goal,” Brennin said.

“I love seeing my coaches and best friends. Knowing that I would see them made me want to go,” she added.

Brannin kept his eyes on the prize: back in the water.

Despite his circumstances, Brannin showed up for his team.

Brannin FaceTimed with her team during practices during treatment and even helped coach when she could.

“I choreograph and perform the routines as if it were a dance team until they are perfectly in sync,” she explained.

As reported by USA swimming team, “Being with her teammates in whatever capacity gave her the purpose she needed to remind herself what the ultimate goal was; to beat cancer, get back in the water and compete again.”

In April, Brannin was declared in remission and officially declared cancer-free.

Way back to the pool

Brannin was in remission for about a month when doctors finally gave her the go-ahead to hit the pool again. They had to make sure her immune system could properly handle the chlorine chemicals in the water before she could resume training.

It was not easy to train after several months of a sedentary life. Branina had to deal with the fact that she might never reach the same level of skill she had before. However, this did not stop her.

It was a comeback.

Branyn competed in the 2022 Junior Olympics in Gainesville, Fla., just two months later in June, her first competition in nearly two years.

The experience gave Branyn a perspective she never imagined. What used to be a chore – going to training every day, training very intensively, competing all the time – has become a privilege.

When asked what motto she lives by, Brannin said, “I truly believe that everything happens for a reason.”

“Don’t dwell on the things in life you can’t control. If you can’t change it right away, don’t stress. There are so many more important things to stress about.’

Don’t determine your intentions without checking the TikTok algorithm

Brannin isn’t just using social media to tell her powerful story, she’s using the TikTok algorithm to do it to inspire others – whether those viewers are fellow athletes, cancer patients, or just people who relate to young people in this big world.

“It was so random, I just randomly posted the video,” Branin said. “Then it blew up and I just took it from there. It was never my intention for it to blow up, especially a video with 50 million views, you’d never imagine it.”

“The only reason I kept it (social media) going is because people said they were going through the same thing or they knew someone and this video helped them. That’s why I did so, if there was an opportunity, I could help someone,” she added.

“It reminds me of what I do,” Brenin said. “A few days before college I wanted to get rid of TikTok, but I made a ‘Why I do what I do’ photo album with the sweetest messages from people like ‘You make me feel heard and understood’ and ‘Sharing my story’ made me I feel less alone.” And that was all she needed to know to continue.

Notes of humor

Brannin posts weekly “Day in the Life” highlights featuring chemotherapy sessions, her health updates, cancer-related moments, and she even offers her viewers some humor.

Branin offers the perfect dose of modernity in his videos – mixing the inescapable sensitivity of cancer with the opportunity for a touch of humor. She believes that while facing such a terrible diagnosis can dull all motivation and positivity, if you can, injecting humor can be very comforting.

“I wish people wouldn’t take things so seriously,” said Brannin, who is aware of the seriousness of her illness. “Don’t dwell on the things in life you can’t control.”

Brannin spends every minute to inspire others, laugh with her friends and loved ones, and try to raise awareness of sarcoma in the world.

It was the connections Branyn made in and out of the pool that helped her get through the toughest days of her life.

“I have a great support system. My parents were my biggest supporters, my sister and my swim coaches were too,” she said. “I hope they know that.”

Source link