Bronx Student Overcomes 3 Brain Tumor Operations to Go to College

Something as simple as a headache usually doesn’t alarm a parent too much, but when Robert Chapman came to his parents in fifth grade telling him he felt constant pain and exhaustion from them, they knew it had to be something more serious. “I was told it was due to puberty and I should let it slide,” Chapman recalled. “Then one day I collapsed in my apartment and my mom was like, 'No, we have to take him to the emergency room.’”

Doctors found a tumor in his brain that had been present since birth and was growing undetected until it reached the size of a golf ball, according to Spectrum News. Chapman received surgery to remove the tumor, which required him to relearn how to walk and talk afterwards. After months of therapy, he was provided with a teacher to help him keep up with his studies.

“It was motivation for me to just keep going, no matter what,” Chapman said. “Don’t let the tumor get in the way of what’s happening.”

Chapman didn’t give his situation the power to determine his life. Through his family’s support and his unwavering faith, he was able to maintain strong grades and earn himself a free ride at All Hallows High School in the Bronx, through the Inner City Scholarship Fund, an organization that aims to provide families with financial needs the opportunity to give their children a quality education within the Archdiocese of New York.

“He has overcome so many obstacles in his life that anything laid before him, he will rise to the occasion,” All Hallows School President Sean Sullivan said.

But his path has been anything but easy. In 2014, Chapman was faced with discovering another tumor, this one pressing against his optic nerve and causing him temporary blindness. A year later, doctors found a third tumor. Both were removed, meaning that Chapman is now considered tumor-free.

“I’m proud of it, because I tell my grandmother all the time it’s a battle scar,” Chapman said. “It’s not something to be ashamed of.”

Not only has Chapman’s continuing perseverance through his adversaries motivated himself, but also the people around him, such as his mother, who has Multiple sclerosis.

“Seeing him supersede so much tells me I’m going to be okay, because look at everything he’s been through and he’s still standing strong,” Catherine Cabassa said.

He has kept his head up high throughout the multiple surgeries and medications, as he graduated on time from high school this past June and got accepted into Mercy College. He hopes to attend medical school after that.

“Don’t take life for granted. Live every day and… cherish it,” Chapman said. “Basically cherish everything that you get.”

Main Image: Chapman at graduation. Credit Spectrum News