HUDSONVILLE, Mich -- Hudsonville junior Jack Mandryk expected to have a big role for the Eagles football team this season. "I was really excited to return to the field starting at safety and maybe starting quarterback, and then I got it all taken away, second quarter of the first game," said Jack. "One run, and it's all taken away."
Jack broke his arm on that run, sidelining him for the next several weeks, but the news of a broken arm didn't even compare to the news that followed: his father Blair had stage 4 brain cancer.
"It was really something that we had a really hard time sharing with our kids," said Jack's mother Jen Mandryk. "But, the last few months, his tumor has gotten a lot more aggressive, and then after Jack broke his arm we kind of hit rock bottom, and we were like, we need to get that all out there, get the support that we need."
"Your first concern, obviously, as a parent, is that I'm gonna try to reduce the stress of the kids as much as possible," said Blair. "It's just gotten to the point where we can't do that anymore."
Like the Mandryks, FOX 17 editor/photographer Jon Beckett knows what it`s like to hear crushing, life-altering news. Jon found out he had a brain tumor last April. He had brain surgery in July, just finished radiation treatments, and will go through chemotherapy starting in November. For Jon, Blair's story is all too familiar. Fortunately, Jon has a great support system helping him with his fight, and Blair has an entire team behind him.
"We have had amazing friends that put together this group called 'Team Blair,'" said Jen. "And they have just been phenomenal with the support and just being there for every step of the way.
"It's definitely been amazing," said Blair. "We knew we had friends and we're all together, but what they've been doing and how they've been supporting us, it's been just unbelievable."
Even as Blair goes through his fight, he had words of advice for Jon with his struggle.
"Lean on people as much as you can, because people are out there that are willing to help," said Blair. "They're more than willing to help, and they are more than glad to help."
"And my advice would be similar to yours," Jon added in return. "Lean on your family, your friends, your community. Stay positive. Stay hopeful."
Aside from his diagnosis, Blair was recently moved to short term disability for six months. In less than 90 days he will move to 60 percent of his pay, and in five months the Mandryk family will lose all of their health insurance.
With no options of surgery or radiation, the Mandryk family will travel to MD Anderson Cancer Treatment Center at the University of Texas to seek experimental treatment.
To help support the Mandryk family, donate at their gofundme page.
Team Blair t-shirts will be sold at Friday night's varsity football game against Grandville at Grandville High School, where fans will be asked to participate in a Team Blair-Out.