SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Professional fishing guide Bryce Archey, 46, of McCurtain County, Okla., has one heck of a fishing story.
It's not about the one that got away, but the one his fishing buddy caught that saved his life.
“I’ve spent more hours on this lake in a boat than anywhere else,” Bryce proudly brags while leaning against his boat near the boat ramps at Lakeview Lodge at Beavers Bend.
Four years ago, Bryce's fishing story began the day after Broken Bow Lake finally reopened after weeks of flooding throughout the Beavers Bend area.
“I had’t been on the water for probably six weeks. I wanted to run my boat. I had trips coming up, so I had to go look,” remembers Bryce, who was concerned with the lake’s condition.
In addition to his guide service being forced to be shut down for weeks, Bryce’s family faced other difficult problems off the water.
“My mother-in-law passed away on June 5, 2015 after an eight-year battle with breast and brain cancer,” Bryce says.
Earlier that year, his son Zane began suffering a series of seizures and was forced to take numerous trips to the hospital.
“The day we got on the water was the first day they opened up a boat ramp,” recalls Bryce, who was met by his longtime fishing buddy Dr. Jim Ford early that morning.
“For the last 15 or so years, we fish together 20 times a year,” says Jim, who at that time was still the emergency room director at a hospital in Durant, Okla.
A day on the water for these two usually means a day full of fishing bests and snarky remarks.
But Jim noticed his friend was not his usual self that morning.
“We stopped a couple of places to fish and he wasn’t fishing. I looked back and he was bent over the front,” says Jim, who had become increasingly worried with Bryce’s declining health.
“I had been having symptoms and kept it to myself,” says Bryce, who finally admitted the pain became so unbearable that he and Jim turned the boat around and headed for shore.
“I told him to call his wife and meet us at the boat ramp,” Jim shares.
It did not take long for doctors to discover the answer to Bryce's mystery pain.
He had ruptured his diverticulum, nothing surgery and medication could not eventually remedy.
"But something else showed up on the scan," Jim recalls.
Doctors had found a large mass on Bryce’s colon.
"When they told me I had cancer, the gasp my wife took," an emotional Bryce begins, pausing briefly before eventually finishing his thoughts.
"I'll never forget that sound," he adds.
"I went silent," adds Sasha Archey, Bryce's wife.
"It was the last thing I expected."
Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.
It was not always smooth sailing back onto the waters of Broken Bow Lake, but Bryce made it.
“I’m very happy to have him back,” says Jim, who deflects any credit for helping save Bryce’s life.
But ask Bryce, he's quick to thank his friend Jim, and his faith for getting him through.
“I’m here because everything lined up. The good Lord lined it up.”