Winners Win | January 23, 2018

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Brian Fazio's Story - The NAVY Radarman Who Fought Cancer Head-On

Brian Fazio’s Story – The NAVY Radarman Who Fought Cancer Head-On


In what turned out to be a series of life changing events that for most would have initiated a time of misery and depression, Bryan Fazio managed to create a story of perseverance, hope and inspiration.

At the age of 26, after receiving his Bachelor’s Degree and graduating from Concordia University in Irvine, CA, Brian Fazio enlisted in the NAVY where he hoped to make a career. After graduating from boot camp and completing his A-School training as a radar-man, it seemed as though he was on track in his new endeavor. That was until he visited the navy hospital after having chest pains from what he thought were symptoms of pneumonia.

Brian Fazio

Brian Fazio shortly after finishing A-school in the NAVY.

Unfortunately, instead of coming back with an expected verdict, the doctors reported they had discovered a 15 centimeter tumor in Fazio’s chest and he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although the this particular form of cancer is among the most curable, even in late stages, after six rounds of chemo and two failed bone marrow transplants, there was no remission. Even though Bryan’s doctors continued to explore options, their outlook was bleak and in February of 2001 gave him only 9 months to live.

Brian Fazio, never say die…

Having to leave the NAVY after his diagnosis, Bryan felt he had two choices… let the cancer beat him and take over his life OR fight the disease and continue living life to the fullest. Thankfully, and through his faith and perseverance, he chose the latter and only 6 months later enrolled in Brandman University’s MBA program.

In an interview with Businessweek’s Francesca Di Meglio earlier this year, Bryan explains his motivation in this pursuit… “The main reason it was important for me to do this is that I’m planning on living. Completing the MBA is my way of telling my doctors and cancer that I am sticking around. I don’t want cancer to make me a victim. The MBA has always been a dream of mine. When I was diagnosed, I thought, what better time to do it than now?” said Fazio.

The payoff…

In May of this year, Bryan Fazio walked down the aisle with the rest of his graduating class. Although he still had two classes to complete at the time, which he did in August, the ceremony marked an important milestone in his fight against cancer.

Fazio speaks to his battle against cancer as was reported in a U.S. News article by Catherine Groux… “Compared to anything I have done in the military or in college, this is the toughest journey I’ve been on by far but I’ve proven it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. I want to be a sense of hope for those people (cancer victims) and their families and show that you can continue to move forward. You can continue to move forward, to be a leader, and strive after your education and that you do not have to be cancer’s victim.”

The Bryan Fazio Scholarship…  

Brian Fazio’s courageous spirit and determination has made a significant impact on not only his classmates at Brandman University but the entire faculty and administrative staff as well. At the same time, Bryan credits the support of the school and his classmates with helping him in his fight and his pursuit of his MBA. To show their mutual commitment to veterans who are overcoming and fighting through similar struggles, the Bryan Fazio Scholarship Fund was created.

At Fazio’s request, the school will offer the scholarship to veterans who have a medical condition or disability… the program will begin in the fall of 2014. Gary Brahm, whom is the university chancellor ay Brandman, stated that he feels a lot of students will gain inspiration from Bryan’s story and that by establishing the Brian Fazio Scholarship, people will continue to hear his story for decades to come.

To Fazio, the scholarship means that a lasting legacy of hope and support for similarly affected veterans has been created and he hopes they will learn what is really important from his story. “Cancer has really made me value life more… it’s not about the quantity so much but more about the quality of life and the impact I will leave” says Bryan.

 Brian Fazio

Brian’s classmates holding a bake sale for the Brian Fazio Scholarship Fund

As always, thanks so much for reading and if you are interested in finding out about how you can donate to the Brian Fazio Scholarship Fund, please send all inquiries to [email protected].

Also, if you have comment about this story please share it below and if you have an inspirational story you would like for us to consider publishing, please submit it here… thank you!


Jim Bates

Sources –

Bloomberg Businessweek

Brandman University

U.S. News

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  • Ella Zakaryan

    Brian Fazio is a true inspiration. He is currently in Law School and is an excellent student and will be an amazing attorney in a few years. He is truly compassionate, caring, ambitious, and kind. I support you in all of your endeavors. You are a hero, Brian!