Eighteen-year-old Braydin Lewis takes a break from practice with the Mount Clemens Metro Jets hockey team at Mount Clemens Ice Arena on Sept. 8.

Eighteen-year-old Braydin Lewis takes a break from practice with the Mount Clemens Metro Jets hockey team at Mount Clemens Ice Arena on Sept. 8.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Mount Clemens Metro Jets player beats brain cancer

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published September 15, 2022

MOUNT CLEMENS — Everything happened so fast for the young defenseman.

Eighteen-year-old Braydin Lewis, whose family lives in Angola, Indiana, was continuing his hockey career with the Mount Clemens Metro Jets in the U.S. Premier Hockey League back in March of 2022.

While playing in March, Lewis began to notice symptoms of fatigue and nausea. That was just the tip of the iceberg, when the young skater was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and had a seizure.

Months later, an MRI would indicate that Lewis had a malignant brain tumor.

“Nothing like that had ever happened to me before, nothing even close,” Lewis said. “I was just able to push through.”

Lewis’ doctor in Fort Wayne successfully conducted surgery to remove the tumor but considered additional treatments with Lewis. That treatment would bring him to Dr. Prakash Chinnaiyan at Beaumont Hospital, in Royal Oak.

Chinnaiyan, a radiation oncologist, specializes in proton therapy at the Proton Therapy Center at Beaumont Hospital, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary.

“It seems almost like yesterday that we treated our first patient, and now we’re bordering almost a thousand patients that have been treated,” Chinnaiyan said.

Lewis was a perfect candidate for proton therapy due to his age and the location of the tumor surrounding critical areas in the brain.

Proton therapy is a radiation therapy that uses protons rather than X-rays to treat cancer, and the reason it’s well regarded is because it is precise on the area it treats while leaving nearby healthy tissues unharmed.

“What makes proton therapy so unique is that it can get to where it needs to, which is the cancer, and really stop on the dime,” Chinnaiyan said. “What that does is that prevents a lot of the normal tissue around it to receive any unnecessary doses of radiation, which traditional radiation therapy may actually expose a patient to.”

Because it was the offseason for hockey, Lewis was staying with his family in Indiana and continued to make the trip to Royal Oak for six weeks while undergoing proton therapy.

While the constant trips back and forth became a tough accommodation, Lewis had some familiar faces to help.

“All my teammates would come to my treatments with me, so having that familiarity was really nice,” Lewis said.

His teammates surprised him on his first day of treatment at the Proton Therapy Center at Beaumont Hospital.

Because of Lewis’ progression, he was able to return to the ice and to some degree of normalcy.

“It felt awesome,” Lewis said. “I was able to get back on the ice during treatment, but being on the ice with my team felt amazing, especially since I was told I wasn’t going to be able to play next year.”

On Aug. 30, Lewis rang the final bell as he completed his proton therapy treatment.

Lewis and the Metro Jets will start the season on Sept. 24, and nobody is more excited than the young defenseman.

Lewis said facing cancer has changed his outlook on life since his treatment.

“It 100% did. It was a total flip, and it makes me enjoy the little times with my family and friends,” Lewis said. “You never know when it’s going to be your last day, so you just got to enjoy life.”