Tiffany Trant, left, is the biggest supporter of her son, Tewksbury High football star Trace Trant.
Tiffany Trant, left, is the biggest supporter of her son, Tewksbury High football star Trace Trant. (Courtesy photo)

TEWKSBURY - Trace Trant had never given his a mother a hug quite like the powerful embrace they shared late last year.

The Trant family, of Tewksbury, had been through a scary and emotionally draining three-plus years. Tiffany, Trace's mom, had fought through three separate bouts with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body's immune system. As much as they all tried to stay positive and hopeful during immensely trying and uncertain circumstances, Trace, his two sisters and his dad, Scott, couldn't help but fear for the worst for the beloved matriarch of their family in the most dire moments.

Tewksbury High football player Trent Trant with his No. 1 fan, his mother Tiffany, following a game.
Tewksbury High football player Trent Trant with his No. 1 fan, his mother Tiffany, following a game. (Courtesy photo)

Last fall, Tiffany had to tell her children that her cancer had come back for the third time because the stem cell transplant that almost took her life in 2017 gave her only 11 months of remission. Fortunately, the timing allowed her to be a part of a clinical trial. Shortly after being admitted to the trial, Tiffany got sick with a viral infection and remained housebound except when she would sneak out and attend Trace's weekly football games for Tewksbury High School. Trace was then a senior captain, offensive lineman and linebacker/defensive end for the Redmen.


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Tiffany was scheduled to begin her treatment and be admitted to Dana Farber days before Trace and Tewksbury were set to play Springfield Central in the Division 3 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. Since her viral infection was not gone yet, her oncologist delayed the treatment by a week. The delay allowed Tiffany to attend the game and watch Trace play his final football game in a Tewksbury uniform, a 20-7 loss.

The delay also had another unintended impact. Due to the trial's strict protocols, Tiffany's previous PET scan could no longer be used because it surpassed the time frame allowed by three days. A new PET scan taken just before treatment was to begin revealed that the cancer was completely gone and Tiffany was in remission again. Her own body had fought off the cancer.

That aforementioned memorable hug occurred in December when Tiffany showed the cancer-free scan to Trace. She remains cancer-free and says she's feeling very well.

"I'll always remember that hug," said Tiffany, who works as a speech therapist at Tewksbury High School and at the Ryan School in town. "I had been able to tell him I'm cancer-free twice before that. That was my third time and on this third time, the hug that he gave me was just priceless. I'll never forget it. I can't explain it, but I'll never forget it.

"As a mom, you're kind of going through this staying positive. You know that this is affecting the kids. But that hug just kind of said it all."

Scott says Tiffany is "a football nut and Trace's biggest fan." She never missed any of Trace's games beginning when he was 9 years- old.

Tiffany, meanwhile, is Trace's inspiration. Through all of the adversity that the family went through, Trace showed his toughness by compartmentalizing it all. He excelled in the classroom and on the football field, all while worrying about his mom's well-being.

Last fall, the 6-foot, 210-pounder had 80 tackles (21 for loss), 10 sacks and 14 quarterback pressures en route to being named All-Merrimack Valley Conference and a Sun All-Star. He was selected to play in next month's prestigious annual Shriner's All-Star Classic, and then he'll go on to attend UMass, where he earned an offer as a preferred walk-on. He'll graduate from Tewksbury High this spring as an honor roll student.

"During the football season, just seeing how hard-working and determined she was -- she went through so much and she never gave up -- so in the back of my head when I was tired during a play, I'd think if my mom can do that then I shouldn't be tired right now," said Trace. "She pushes me to keep going."

Like mother, like son. At least that's how Tewksbury football head coach Brian Aylward sees it.

"Tiffany is great proof of my theory that all kids get their toughness from their moms," said Alyward. "She's doing unbelievably well, and it's been an unbelievable turnaround."

A turnaround that seemed extremely improbable just two years ago.

The situation began to get really ominous in May of 2017, when Tiffany was diagnosed with (NHL) for the second time in two years.

After a summer of chemotherapy, she underwent a stem cell transplant in the middle of September of 2017 at Dana Farber in Boston. Due to complications from the transplant, Tiffany required high risk emergency surgery and the doctors told the Trant family they did not expect her to survive. This was right in the middle of Trace's junior football season.

Tiffany somehow shocked the doctors and survived the surgery but remained in a coma in critical condition on life support. At this point, the doctors had done everything they could to continue keeping her alive and informed the Trants that if her condition worsened in any way, there was nothing they could do to prevent her from dying. Essentially, her life was out of their hands.

"The way that everything seemed in the beginning was like 'oh, it's fine, it's not serious.' But then it all progressed and got really bad," recalled Trace about the entire experience of watching his mom battle.

Trace missed some school days and team practices to be with his mother. But he also figured that when, not if, she pulled through, she would be upset if he couldn't help Tewksbury on the football field. So, he'd go to school, then to football practice in the afternoon and then to Dana Farber every night to visit his mother.

"I remember I had an upcoming game against Lawrence and my mom couldn't really speak, so my dad and I were talking about if I should go play that game," said Trace. "He was like, 'yeah, your mom would want you to play.' So after missing practice all week, I played in that game."

Weeks later, Tiffany awoke from the coma but remained hospitalized until December. She was able to hear all about how Trace, a two-way starter as a junior, helped the Redmen win the North sectional and advance all the way to the Division 3 state semifinals, where they lost to North Attleboro.

"I'd have to say, I've had a lot of proud mom moments, especially in the last couple of years," said Tiffany. "His junior year, I missed most of the season because of everything that happened. But knowing and hearing about how he was able to really stay focused, both academically and for the football team, made me really proud once I realized what was happening. Setting these goals for himself and now having the opportunity to go to UMass and earn a spot there -- lots of proud mom moments."

As incredibly difficult as the road to recovery was for her, Tiffany says it also pained her to know how rough it was for her kids, including daughters Teagan, a nursing student at the University of New Hampshire, and Tierney, a freshman at Tewksbury High.

"They've had to go through a lot," said Tiffany. "Trace's junior year was the worst, obviously. And then this past year, having been diagnosed for the third time and having this spontaneous remission. But as of now, everything is very good, and we've kind of closed this door and are moving forward.

"When I was in the hospital the second time, which was the most significant, I would think was the most emotional because they felt like they were going to lose their mom. My husband really had to deal with trying to keep things normal for them. When you're going through a third bout of cancer in such a short time, you really do start to think about the reality of what-if. Where before I kind of just went into the therapy and the chemo like 'yeah, I got this.' That third time, I went in saying, 'Oh my god, will I see Trace graduate? Will I see Tierney be a senior in high school.' But in front of them, I was always very, very positive."

Tiffany said that her oncologist has told her that the cancer will likely come back, because that's what this cancer typically does.

But for now, things are great. Trace is excited to suit up for the Shriner's game.

"It's going to be very cool to have one last game against some of the best kids from Massachusetts," he said. "I'm glad that I was picked."

From there, it'll be just a couple short months until he tries his hand at Division 1 college football, likely as a linebacker.

"He's a great kid," said Aylward of Trace. "He was a leader for us on the field and in the weight room and had a lot to do with the success that our team had. He was a really great player for us on both sides of the ball and he had to overcome a tough situation with his mom. They're a great family, great people."

The safe bet is that Trace will rise to the challenge. It's in his DNA.

Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone

TEWKSBURY — Trace Trant had never given his a mother a hug quite like the powerful embrace they shared late last year.

The Trant family, of Tewksbury, had been through a scary and emotionally draining three-plus years. Tiffany, Trace's mom, had fought through three separate bouts with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body's immune system. As much as they all tried to stay positive and hopeful during immensely trying and uncertain circumstances, Trace, his two sisters and his dad, Scott, couldn't help but fear for the worst for the beloved matriarch of their family in the most dire moments.

Last fall, Tiffany had to tell her children that her cancer had come back for the third time because the stem cell transplant that almost took her life in 2017 gave her only 11 months of remission. Fortunately, the timing allowed her to be a part of a clinical trial. Shortly after being admitted to the trial, Tiffany got sick with a viral infection and remained housebound except when she would sneak out and attend Trace's weekly football games for Tewksbury High School. Trace was then a senior captain, offensive lineman and linebacker/defensive end for the Redmen.

Tiffany was scheduled to begin her treatment and be admitted to Dana Farber days before Trace and Tewksbury were set to play Springfield Central in the Division 3 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. Since her viral infection was not gone yet, her oncologist delayed the treatment by a week. The delay allowed Tiffany to attend the game and watch Trace play his final football game in a Tewksbury uniform, a 20-7 loss.

The delay also had another unintended impact. Due to the trial's strict protocols, Tiffany's previous PET scan could no longer be used because it surpassed the time frame allowed by three days. A new PET scan taken just before treatment was to begin revealed that the cancer was completely gone and Tiffany was in remission again. Her own body had fought off the cancer.

That aforementioned memorable hug occurred in December when Tiffany showed the cancer-free scan to Trace. She remains cancer-free and says she's feeling very well.

"I'll always remember that hug," said Tiffany, who works as a speech therapist at Tewksbury High School and at the Ryan School in town. "I had been able to tell him I'm cancer-free twice before that. That was my third time and on this third time, the hug that he gave me was just priceless. I'll never forget it. I can't explain it, but I'll never forget it.

"As a mom, you're kind of going through this staying positive. You know that this is affecting the kids. But that hug just kind of said it all."

Scott says Tiffany is "a football nut and Trace's biggest fan." She never missed any of Trace's games beginning when he was 9 years- old.

Tiffany, meanwhile, is Trace's inspiration. Through all of the adversity that the family went through, Trace showed his toughness by compartmentalizing it all. He excelled in the classroom and on the football field, all while worrying about his mom's well-being.

Last fall, the 6-foot, 210-pounder had 80 tackles (21 for loss), 10 sacks and 14 quarterback pressures en route to being named All-Merrimack Valley Conference and a Sun All-Star. He was selected to play in next month's prestigious annual Shriner's All-Star Classic, and then he'll go on to attend UMass, where he earned an offer as a preferred walk-on. He'll graduate from Tewksbury High this spring as an honor roll student.

"During the football season, just seeing how hard-working and determined she was -- she went through so much and she never gave up -- so in the back of my head when I was tired during a play, I'd think if my mom can do that then I shouldn't be tired right now," said Trace. "She pushes me to keep going."

Like mother, like son. At least that's how Tewksbury football head coach Brian Aylward sees it.

"Tiffany is great proof of my theory that all kids get their toughness from their moms," said Alyward. "She's doing unbelievably well, and it's been an unbelievable turnaround."

A turnaround that seemed extremely improbable just two years ago.

The situation began to get really ominous in May of 2017, when Tiffany was diagnosed with (NHL) for the second time in two years.

After a summer of chemotherapy, she underwent a stem cell transplant in the middle of September of 2017 at Dana Farber in Boston. Due to complications from the transplant, Tiffany required high risk emergency surgery and the doctors told the Trant family they did not expect her to survive. This was right in the middle of Trace's junior football season.

Tiffany somehow shocked the doctors and survived the surgery but remained in a coma in critical condition on life support. At this point, the doctors had done everything they could to continue keeping her alive and informed the Trants that if her condition worsened in any way, there was nothing they could do to prevent her from dying. Essentially, her life was out of their hands.

"The way that everything seemed in the beginning was like 'oh, it's fine, it's not serious.' But then it all progressed and got really bad," recalled Trace about the entire experience of watching his mom battle.

Trace missed some school days and team practices to be with his mother. But he also figured that when, not if, she pulled through, she would be upset if he couldn't help Tewksbury on the football field. So, he'd go to school, then to football practice in the afternoon and then to Dana Farber every night to visit his mother.

"I remember I had an upcoming game against Lawrence and my mom couldn't really speak, so my dad and I were talking about if I should go play that game," said Trace. "He was like, 'yeah, your mom would want you to play.' So after missing practice all week, I played in that game."

Weeks later, Tiffany awoke from the coma but remained hospitalized until December. She was able to hear all about how Trace, a two-way starter as a junior, helped the Redmen win the North sectional and advance all the way to the Division 3 state semifinals, where they lost to North Attleboro.

"I'd have to say, I've had a lot of proud mom moments, especially in the last couple of years," said Tiffany. "His junior year, I missed most of the season because of everything that happened. But knowing and hearing about how he was able to really stay focused, both academically and for the football team, made me really proud once I realized what was happening. Setting these goals for himself and now having the opportunity to go to UMass and earn a spot there -- lots of proud mom moments."

As incredibly difficult as the road to recovery was for her, Tiffany says it also pained her to know how rough it was for her kids, including daughters Teagan, a nursing student at the University of New Hampshire, and Tierney, a freshman at Tewksbury High.

"They've had to go through a lot," said Tiffany. "Trace's junior year was the worst, obviously. And then this past year, having been diagnosed for the third time and having this spontaneous remission. But as of now, everything is very good, and we've kind of closed this door and are moving forward.

"When I was in the hospital the second time, which was the most significant, I would think was the most emotional because they felt like they were going to lose their mom. My husband really had to deal with trying to keep things normal for them. When you're going through a third bout of cancer in such a short time, you really do start to think about the reality of what-if. Where before I kind of just went into the therapy and the chemo like 'yeah, I got this.' That third time, I went in saying, 'Oh my god, will I see Trace graduate? Will I see Tierney be a senior in high school.' But in front of them, I was always very, very positive."

Tiffany said that her oncologist has told her that the cancer will likely come back, because that's what this cancer typically does.

But for now, things are great. Trace is excited to suit up for the Shriner's game.

"It's going to be very cool to have one last game against some of the best kids from Massachusetts," he said. "I'm glad that I was picked."

From there, it'll be just a couple short months until he tries his hand at Division 1 college football, likely as a linebacker.

"He's a great kid," said Aylward of Trace. "He was a leader for us on the field and in the weight room and had a lot to do with the success that our team had. He was a really great player for us on both sides of the ball and he had to overcome a tough situation with his mom. They're a great family, great people."

The safe bet is that Trace will rise to the challenge. It's in his DNA.

Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone