My name is Kael Briski, and I am Alexis’ father. I wish it wasn’t true, but in May of 2008, Alexis, who was then 10 years old, was diagnosed with a bone cancer know as Osteosarcoma. She passed away in May of 2009 just a year after she was diagnosed.
Over the years, I’ve told several stories about Alexis, or with Alexis as the focal point. I always try to focus on a new perspective about her, and the more letters I write the harder it is. Below you will see two stories that popped in to my mind. One that happened in May of 2009, and one that is ongoing but has its beginnings in 2006.
In any event, Alexis’ cancer started in her upper right arm, and in order to have any hope of curing it they had to take out her entire bone from the shoulder socket all the way down to the elbow and provide her with a donor bone and put it in place. That was an eight-hour surgery that successfully got out the cancer from its initial location and allowed her to have a somewhat functional arm. Unfortunately, about nine months after that, her cancer came back, and she had to have her arm amputated —it was the only way to stop the cancer from growing there.
After this, another girl, who was also an amputee and cancer survivor, came to the hospital to encourage Alexis. This young woman was a cheerleader at her high school and very outgoing and friendly. She explained how she was able to adjust, and it gave Alexis a real boost. If this girl can do it, why not me? In fact, the entire family came to the hospital several times to lend encouragement and support to us because they had been through it before. They visited on several occasions, and what was so cool about it is that they had never known us but were very familiar with our situation and were willing to give of themselves.
At that time the girl’s mother was pregnant. I was very touched and honored to find out later that when they had their child, it was a girl and they named her Alexis. I cried when I discovered that. It meant a great deal to us to know they cared so much.
If I came up with all of the things like that that happened to us over the course of a year, I could probably write a book. There were at least 100 such people and stories that helped us in so many different ways. One of the groups that helped us was this softball league.
Alexis played softball in our league for about four years, including in our Magic program. To give you an idea about how much she loved the sport, even after Alexis had to have her arm amputated she was still thinking of ways that she could come back and play the game, even if she only had one arm.
Alexis was my oldest of four children, and my youngest, Emily was only nine months old when Alexis was first diagnosed. Emily is now 11 years old and is playing on our 12C Magic Team. I am one of the assistant coaches on that team along with Sheila Tucker, our team manager. 12 years ago, I also coached with her on an 8U team with her daughter Sydney, and Alexis also on the team.
Now 12 years later I find myself coaching Sheila’s daughter Grace, and my daughter Emily. They were both tiny little toddlers when Alexis was last playing ball. I’m privileged to have been involved in coaching softball since 2005 and have a few years yet left in me. This weekend you’ll find me at Blossom Hill School. I’ll be wearing a well-worn Magic hat with a yellow ribbon on one side with Alexis’ initials and number on it, and a purple J for Alexis’ dear friend Jensen Barrett, who she met at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, and who also passed away after her courageous battle with cancer. Please feel free to stop by and say “hello.”
I hope that you all will take the time to enjoy this tournament. For me, it seems to bring Alexis to life for two days, but when it’s over, I’m sad because she isn’t here.
I want to thank our fantastic softball league for hosting this tournament the last 10 years. The funds that we raise are used in part to provide scholarships to local softball players that will be attending college, and it gives me great joy to know that the sport that Alexis loved provides a bit of help to our youth that will be attending college.
On behalf of my family and the Los Gatos, Cupertino, Saratoga Softball League, we welcome you to the 10th Annual Alexis Briski Memorial Softball Tournament.
Kael Briski (Alexis' Father)