USTA Pacific Northwest | April 17, 2018
Brent Wheeler (pictured above) is a 5.0 player from Salem, Oregon. In October of last year (2017), Brent was complaining about a back pain, which he thought was from serving during a tennis match. Over the course of the next few weeks, it worsened and then he felt pain going down his legs. After several weeks of doctor visits, ER visits, and reaching a 103 temperature, he was admitted to Salem Hospital on November 8th, 2017. After an MRI, he was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia. "It had hit Brent so hard by the next day it basically took three people to get him out of bed," said his father, Gary Wheeler. "That's hard to imagine a strong, fit guy who’s been playing tennis since he was 5. He’s played countless junior tournaments, 4 years of college tennis at Portland State and had just started as one of the tennis pros at the Salem Tennis and Swim Club. ADVERTISEMENT "
The next day Brent was transported by ambulance to the OHSU hospital in Portland, Oregon, where they specialize in his type of (ALL) Leukemia. He has been in and out of this hospital for chemotherapy, removal of his appendix, more chemotherapy, etc. ever since. Brent returned home for three weeks while in remission and healing up from his last major surgery. After dropping from a fit 160 lbs to 108 pounds, he started eating well and gaining weight back up to 117 lbs. The color, smile, and laughter that made Brent so popular with so many people had returned. He was scheduled to have a bone marrow transplant (to be donated by his youngest brother), but the transplant has been postponed indefinitely. Instead, a new breakthrough treatment called Car-T Cell Immunotherapy will be used. The date is currently set for May 8th.
Throughout all of this, the tennis community has rallied behind Brent and the entire Wheeler Family. "My family is so grateful to so many people in the tennis community that have come forward to offer their support, prayers, home, finances, and love in so many ways it's hard to imagine," Gary shared. Brent's tennis friends come stay with him during the day and night to keep him company. Players and friends from multiple tennis clubs in Salem and Portland and friends from college have brought him gifts, cards, food, meals, donations, and most of all, their love. "This has meant the most!" Gary adds, "and it still continues. Many have known my family as a result of playing tennis over the years. The one thing I have always believed in was trying to make a new friend while playing a match rather than just an opponent. I think that's worked out well...thank you to all who have supported us, and please let us know if we can help you in any way too."
Salem Tennis & Swim Club, their home tennis facility, has held cardio tennis fundraisers and #WheelerStrong campaigns. See more on their website here.
Do you have a story about a tennis captain, player, volunteer, team, etc. within your PNW community that you want to share with us? Tell us about it here, and we may share it in our future PNW E-Newsletter. Click HERE or fill out the form below to let us know