Thursday, August 7, 2008

Life After Cancer

With most cancers, they say each year without a relapse is a victory. But with Burkitt's, everything happens fast. Every week is a victory, and reduces the chance of relapse. The first 3-4 months after treatment are the most worrisome, and Tyler has hit the half way mark without a single complication. We are now scheduled for surgery next week to have his chest port removed! What a day that will be! Thank you all very much for your continued prayers.

Tyler is working hard to get his "normal" life back. He is still a little embarrassed by all the attention he has received. He says he has done nothing special, and therefore does not deserve everything he has received. Well, maybe. But he did nothing to deserve cancer, and he received that also. We are very appreciative of this community, and to everyone who helped in so many ways to bring some balance to the "deserve" equation.

Still, we are trying to move on to "normal". But we know many things will never be the same. As one person told us, it is like the aftermath of a tornado. Your life was picked up and thrown around. You will never be able to put all the pieces back the way they were before. We have been changed. But the pieces will come back together in a new way. There will become a new "normal".

I think the biggest change has been our understanding of how even the very smallest actions can have a great impact on the lives of other people. As I think back, some of the brightest moments were around relatively small things. A stranger handing us a fist full of hospital parking tokens, a call from a friend to just talk, an autographed football, or a note from someone encouraged by Tyler's battle. Each of those events became miracles in our lives.

We have actually been very fortunate in our lives. And we have always tried to give back as much as we thought appropriate. But I can say I never really approached helping others with the same passion I gave other things. We all have special gifts and talents. Unique experiences. I wonder how many of those things exist for the purpose of helping others?

One year ago, 18 year old Miles Levin gave his high school commencement address. He had been fighting an aggressive battle with cancer for two years. As he spoke to his fellow students looking toward their futures, he knew that his own life would soon be over. Miles said he often heard that we should always be content. If being a ditch digger or a janitor makes you happy, then do it and do it well. But, he asked, what if you have the ability to be a doctor or a scientist or something that could save the lives or suffering of millions? Is it okay to be a ditch digger just because that makes you content? Or should we strive to do the greatest good? Should we take the gifts and opportunities given us and achieve something great?

I tend to think our gifts and circumstances are there for a reason. It is good to use your gifts to improve your own life, and the lives of your family. But after that, I think we need to look beyond. Maybe we can help others. Maybe we can impact the lives of others. And maybe, just maybe, we can do something truly spectacular and miraculous in the life of another. I know it is possible, because I know I have received it. I pray I can pass it on.

"If my struggle with cancer galvanizes actions of goodness, I can rest assured that even if I succumb to the rogue cells, I will leave behind a legacy of victory. Dying is not what scares me, it’s dying having had no impact. I know a lot of eyes are watching me suffer; and---win or lose---this is my time for impact."
--Miles Levin

What will people remember us for? Are peoples loves better because we lived? Did we make a difference? Did we use to the fullest the gifts and abilities God gave us? Did we give our best effort, and did we do it for the right reasons?
--Tony Dungy

Take note-the measure that you give is the measure you receive. The man who has will be given more, and the man who has not will forfeit even what he has.
--Mark 4:24-25

How far you go in life depends upon you being tender to the young, compassionate to the aged, sympathetic to the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because some day in life you will be all of these.
--George Washington

The time I’ve had has been enough—time enough to make the world a better place for having been here.
--Miles Levin

Some Prayers:
Mason Mcleod, also with Burkitt's, recently suffered a relapse. He is waiting on his bone marrow transplant, and yesterday lapsed into a coma. He is currently on a ventilator.

Stef was back in the hospital, and has been placed on TPN due to his weight loss. Tyler spent a lot of time on TPN, and it is not fun. Stef has always been a truly spectacular source of encouragement and support for Tyler.

Our friend Patty is currently on a ventilator.

TNT: I actually really enjoyed last week-end 10 mile run. Only months ago I struggled to go 3 miles. I was out of shape and getting worse each year. It was inspiration of Tyler's successful battle with cancer that inspired me into finally taking action on my health. Without exaggeration I tell you that Tyler saved my life.

194 training miles down. 284 to the starting line.


Anonymous said...


We are so happy to read you are getting your port out - we hope this means you will be well on your way back to school this year! You are truly a great fighter and you do deserve recongnition!

Hope you are enjoying the end of summer!

Take care (to the whole family),
The Timbrooks

deyerles said...

Dear Tyler,

You may not think you have done anything special just like many of us will never truely understand what you have experienced and felt through out this journey. But I can tell you just a few ways you are special and how inspiring you are to many others including myself.

You are a sign of strength, courage and bravery. You have given people hope, inspiration, determination and faith. People not only suffering have looked to you for guidance but families and friends. You have united community, strangers and families. You may not feel special but you are not only to us who know and love you but to God. We are so very proud of you so don't be embarrased. You have work hard! Harder than we'll ever know and it's ok to receive some praise.


dina b. said...

As always, your words give me pause to reflect a little more deeply about many important things in life -- Again, thank you for sharing your insight --

Hey, sounds like your training regimen is going great! -- It's been nice to see you on the Glacier Ridge trail :)

Tyler & the rest of your family continue to be in my daily prayers --
God Bless!

MJ/Angel_Wings said...

Morning Tyler I am so thankful that things are going so well and I am praying for a completely successful port removal. Please know that I am thinking about you and keeping you close in prayer. MJ/Angel_Wings

MJ/Angel_Wings said...