‘Angel on earth’ found: Viewer call leads to cancer diagnosis

Ottawa County

JENISON, Mich. (WOOD) — A News 8 viewer’s kindness and concern ultimately led to the early detection of breast cancer in an Ottawa County woman.

“I do believe they are an angel here on earth,” said Alison Bydalek, a Jenison teacher who was featured in a News 8 story in early 2021.

In January, Bydalek reached out to Target 8 for help after criminals stole her identity and filed fraudulent unemployment benefit claims in her name.

“God just knew I needed identity theft and fraud to get me to go to the doctor,” Bydalek said. “I’m just so grateful to whoever reached out. That they were looking out for me.”

After the January story aired, a viewer called News 8 because she thought she’d spotted something on Bydalek’s neck and feared it might be thyroid cancer.

It wouldn’t be the first time a viewer’s eagle eye led to a diagnosis. Inside Edition’s Deborah Norville and HGTV’s Tarik El Moussa were both alerted to their thyroid cancer by observant viewers. 

News 8 shared the viewer’s concern with Bydalek.

“I took it seriously and found a doctor because I hadn’t had one at that time,” said the teacher. “I know, isn’t it terrible? I hadn’t been going because I’m healthy. I’m always sure my kids go to their visits. I guess it just got on the back burner a little bit.”

A BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS

Tests showed Bydalek’s thyroid was fine, but the doctor ordered a full physical too, including a mammogram.

At 46, the avid runner, teacher, wife and mother of four had never had one before.  

Alison Bydalek and her family wearing “Team Alison” T-shirts. (courtesy)

The mammogram located a lump, and a biopsy confirmed it: Bydalek had breast cancer.

“It is invasive ductal cancer, which is very common, and it did not spread to my lymph nodes,” said Bydalek. 

“What I do know is that I would not have been to that doctor still if that viewer had not reached out. It’s not that I’m anti-doctor, I just typically go when I don’t feel good and, lucky for me, that’s not very often,” she said.

After a lumpectomy and radiation, Bydalek says her prognosis is favorable with low risk of recurrence.

Bydalek and her family wanted to find and thank the viewer who called News 8.

“That viewer’s quite an angel in our eyes,” said her husband, Brian Bydalek.

“Someday, we’d like to say ‘thank you’ to that person,” he said before explaining what Alison Bydalek means to the family of six.

“She’s our pillar. She keeps us all together. She’s strong. Hard-working. She’s the best mother and wife,” shared Brian Bydalek, tears in his eyes. 

ANGEL FOUND

At 6 p.m. Friday, News 8 aired a story about Alison Bydalek’s diagnosis and their interest in meeting the woman who called the newsroom.

We had failed to get her name and number when she called in January.

At 6:09 Friday evening, the newsroom received an email.

“It was my wife, Lana Campbell, who called this in,” wrote Ronald Campbell.

“Lana just about came out of her seat when she saw … the program. Please feel free to contact her,” wrote Campbell, sharing their contact information. 

News 8 called Lana Campbell, who was thrilled that her phone call made a difference. 

She’s from Cedar Springs, and while her family has had thyroid issues, they have not dealt with cancer.

She has no medical training but thought she saw something irregular on Bydalek’s neck and took the time and effort to call about it.

When we texted Alison Bydalek to let her know we found her angel, she responded, “No way! Already? I’m so excited!”

Both women want to meet in person and plan to do so in the near future. 

In the meantime, the fight against breast cancer has gained six new warriors. The Bydalek family is already gearing up to make a difference in the battle.

Three of their children, Lilly, Sam and Jack, attend Jenison High School. The oldest, Molly, is at Grand Rapids Community College.

Molly and Lilly have both been on the Jenison Swim & Dive team, which is participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk Saturday morning. 

Brian Bydalek coordinated the effort, and the students have so far raised $4,591 through collecting pop cans and T-shirt sales.

The walk begins at the Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids at 8:30 Saturday morning.

The Bydalek family hopes to see you there.

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