Bengals’ playoff run brings joy to young fan diagnosed with rare cancer

Bennett Messer and his family came from Florida to Cincinnati for his cancer treatment as the...
Bennett Messer and his family came from Florida to Cincinnati for his cancer treatment as the Bengals made their Super Bowl run last season.(WXIX)
Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 11:52 AM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Bengals’ run to the playoffs has energized Cincinnati and given one of their young fans the power through tough times.

Strong will, resilience and a refusal to give up are some shared characteristics of 2-year-old Bennett Messer and the Bengals.

Bennett was diagnosed in 2022 with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare, fast-growing cancer affecting his right eye.

His Bengals fandom and time in Cincinnati were unplanned.

“We started treatment down in Florida and we wanted to get the best of the best care, so we came to Cincinnati,” explains Bennett’s mom, Jessica Messer.

When the Messer family came to Cincinnati, the Bengals were amidst a cinderella run to the Super Bowl.

Jessica says Bennet jumped right into the love of Who Dey Nation.

A Bengals win puts a smile on the 2-year-old’s face during some of his most challenging days.

The Messers did not plan to be in Cincinnati for the Bengals’ playoff push this year, but in October, they found out Bennett’s cancer had returned.

Jessica says for them representing Who Dey Nation stretches far past football; it serves as a thank you to Cincinnati for wrapping its arms around their family when they most needed it.

“I was flying home the night I found out that Bennett’s cancer came back and a lady sitting next to me, she was from Cincinnati, I was breaking down to her and she asked for my phone number and sent me a text message and has been doing whatever she can to help us,” Jessica recalls. “Everybody has been so welcoming. We feel part of this community now and part of this city.”

While they hope to return home to Florida after Bennett’s treatment, Jessica says Cincinnati and the Bengals will forever be part of their lives.

“We will be back every three months, and hopefully, we’ll come back and do the fun stuff and get to enjoy it more than just the medical,” Jessica says. “Cincinnati will always have a place in our hearts.”

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