Preston uses his voice to stay positive while battling rare cancer
Nov 23, 2021, 10:02 PM | Updated: Nov 24, 2021, 9:04 am
(Courtesy: Nijst Family)
GIVE-A-THON – At 16 years old, Preston Christiansen is wiser than most teens his age.
“I look at life differently than some other people would, I guess,” Christiansen said. “There’s not really a reason to stress out.”
Preston has fought cancer for many years. He has rung that bell after treatments many times, only to have the cancer return.
“It’s not like you can really change a lot of stuff, but you can change how you get through that,” said Christiansen.
KSL first met Preston and his family five years ago, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.
“Preston has what’s called Desmo Plastic Small Cell Round Tumor,” Michelle Nijst, Preston’s mom, said. “It’s extremely rare. There are about 200 cases in the world.”
They soon began treatments at Primary Children’s Hospital.
“They said to go to Primary Children’s, and I’ll never forget the room,” Nijst said. “It was 4424, and it was Christmas Day, and they had decorated everything for him.”
A sad time for the family, but one filled with gratitude too, and since that time, cancer has been an almost constant presence in Preston’s life.
But it never dampened his personality – or his sense of humor.
“What is it called when Batman leaves church? Christian Bale…” Preston joked.
Preston has now rung the bell after chemo treatments more times than anyone should ever have to.
Chances are he won’t get to ring it again. His cancer has returned and spread. Doctors say his options are minimal now.
“You wake up, and you go to bed every night wondering how much time you have left?” Nijst said. “It’s hard, accepting, and not being able to change or fix Preston. I’d give anything. And knowing I can’t, it’s hard. I try not to focus on that. No, I just, I actually follow Preston’s lead. He’s so positive.”
Preston tries to keep a positive outlook.
“Even though it’s like such a bad thing that I was diagnosed with this illness, it’s also something that has brought me a lot of happiness and joy as well because I’ve met so many people, and they’ve really been a big part of my life,” Preston said.
Now music is also helping him make new connections.
“I just got into like singing and stuff,” Preston said. “And then I was like, you know, I actually want to make a song.”
He recently released a Blake Shelton cover of “Lonely Tonight.” It was on Spotify first, and then it went to iTunes.
When Shelton heard about it – he sent Preston a video message.
“So I was like, ‘Am I dreaming right now? Did this actually happen?'” Preston said.
Preston says he wants the proceeds from the song to benefit cancer research for kids.
“It’s like really cool that everybody wants to be like, invested in that and actually likes the song,” Preston said. “I felt like, I felt really loved. More than normal. I guess.”
He hopes to release a Christmas song too.
His high school cheer squad recently helped him raise awareness for childhood cancer research, and he was made an honorary cheerleader at a Weber State Football game.
“He always wanted a letterman’s jacket, and now he has one, and it’s like, you know from a college that he might not be able to go to,” Nijst said. “And they wanted to make him family, make him a part of the team.”
Kristopher Nijst, Preston’s dad, said, “It makes you feel good that there’s people out there that that don’t owe you but then choose to give their time or resources to make Preston have so many amazing memories.”
Preston says it’s the people who show love that make the most impact, and that’s how he wants to be remembered.
“I’m going to be the best person I can be and hopefully make an impact in others’ lives because eventually everybody is going to not be here anymore,” Preston said. “So it’s what you do during that time that you’re here that matters and all the happiness that you bring others.”