Courage to Conquer

The story of how a student beat childhood cancer

 Story and photos by Hetty La Contributor

Javer resumed classes last fall and is now studying outdoor recreation.

It started as a headache.

At first, Long Beach State student Kyle Javer didn’t think too much of it. Probably just a migraine, he thought.

But five weeks passed, and the headache persisted. His doctors were baffled. Unable to pinpoint the problem, they prescribed steroids for the pain, but the throbbing only worsened.

Then, one day, his world was changed forever.

A C.T. scan found a tumor in the back of his head about the size of a golf ball. Later, a 9-hour brain surgery confirmed the worst — at only 19 years old, Javer was living with cancer.

“It was pretty scary,” said Javer, now 22 years old. “They told me it was Medulloblastoma, a rare tumor with only 200 cases every year. It typically affects newborns to 9-year-olds, so why it happened to me as a teenager is still a mystery.”

Javer spent the next year in and out of different hospitals, undergoing multiple painful treatments that often left him sick to his stomach.

Despite all the turmoil and challenges, Javer defeated cancer in December 2016.

He returned to LBSU last fall with his heart set on two new goals — to educate his college classmates about childhood cancer, and to dedicate his life to helping children with cancer.

Javer sporting his Long Beach State pride in the hospital while being treated for cancer.

After his battle with cancer, Javer joined the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Child Life Program (AYA), a support group at CHOC Children’s Hospital that provides emotional support for teens and young adults with cancer, through activities such as social events and weekend retreats.

It was during one of these retreats that he had the epiphany that would steer his college education.

“Through AYA, I accompanied a group of patients on a two-day cabin trip at Lake Arrowhead,” said Javer. “When we went on hikes around the lake, and I saw everyone in awe of the beauty of nature — that was the moment I realized this is where I belong, and this is what I have to do.”

Javer is now majoring in outdoor recreation, a field he believes would greatly help young cancer patients in hospitals.

“I love being outdoors and being able to show people the beauty all around,” said Javer. “I want to be able to take these children outside and show them there’s still a world out there, beyond the walls of their hospital room.”

During his time in the hospital, Javer was shocked by the lack of treatment options available for pediatric cancer. Current treatments often require kids to be hospitalized and bedridden for weeks at a time, forcing them to miss out on the chance to be a kid with a normal childhood.

Javer recalls his own treatment experience with much chagrin — long hours of experimental radiation, lumbar punctures and photon therapy, a treatment he says is worse than chemo.

“Think of the worst hangover you’ve ever had, and combine it with the worst stomach flu you’ve had,” he said. “That’s what it feels like.”

Through his own battle with cancer, Javer is dedicated to making progress in the field of childhood cancer treatment. He is currently working with a few other students to start LBSU’s very first campus chapter of With Purpose, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing pediatric cancer treatment research.

Through the university chapter of With Purpose, Javer hopes to raise awareness among the campus community on the issues surrounding childhood cancer — lack of funding, need for advocacy and awareness — and help inspire meaningful change on those issues.

“That’s the thing that’s hard to explain about cancer, from beginning to the end, people think you’re ‘back,’ but you’re not really done with treatment after you’re in the clear,” said Javer. “There are so many side effects you have to deal with afterwards.”

Javer is excited to spearhead the Long Beach chapter of With Purpose and he hopes his story will inspire classmates to rally around this important cause.

“Through With Purpose, we can educate people on this reality and make a difference for kids with cancer everywhere,” said Javer.

To learn more about With Purpose Long Beach, visit

facebook.com/withpurposelb