Then, in an instant, it can all change. It was only days after Tyler got his driver's permit that his life was turned upside down by cancer. Life was placed on hold. Suddenly, every dream is surrounded by question marks. Will he ever learn to drive? Will his hair grow back? Or will he ever go to prom, graduate high school, have a career, fall in love, have children and grandchildren?
I believe it is impossible to fully appreciate the unique struggles these young adults go through. These "kids" have a full adult understanding of the risks and challenges they face. And, although lacking the life experiences of adults, they aggressively attack this battle with everything they have. They refuse to lose. They continue to fight, often long after the medical "experts" have given up.
I still remember the day I was called out of a business meeting because Sinjin's mom was on the phone. The docs had giving up on Sinjin, and were sending him home. But he refused, and said, "I am 14 years old and have never kissed a girl. I WILL NOT go home to die!" Today, Sinjin is in remission. Then came Tristan, who many had written off. But he fought as well, and this week received all clear scans. And Tyler continues to get stronger, as "normal" life starts to actually feel normal. He is playing basketball and volleyball, applying for summer jobs, and is now completing his SCUBA certification. Refuse to lose.
These fights can be won. It is thrill to watch Tyler walk out the door to go for a drive. This cancer can be beaten. As Sinjin said, "Just change impossible to I'm possible". But never forget that the fight is not easy. The war has not been won. This month Christan Barker should be getting his drivers licence, but cancer ended his life. Tuesday I was at Ryan Salmons funeral. AJ, Brett, Chase, Kelsie. Never forget them. These kids can fight the cancer, but they need us fighting the system, looking for options, raising money for research.
And please remember those still deep in the fight.
Mason McLeod is fighting hard, never giving up. He needs your prayers right now.
Jesse Dorseck is fighting on many levels and infections and other problems continue to complicate his recovery for his bone marrow transplant.
Rachelle has relapsed, and is facing many obstacles in getting her bone marrow transplant.
Each of these young adults are in a fight that you and I could never imagine. Please keep them in all your prayers. The next several hours and days are very critical.
Sinjin put together this video of those fighting. Look at them. They fight to win. They refuse to lose. Tyler is in the video, well as Sinjin, Tristan, Mason, and many of the other kids we have discussed here.
And as you watch them, remember...
- The number of teenagers diagnosed with cancer has increased every year for the past 25 years.
- Teenagers and young adults are the only age group that have flat or declining survival rates from cancer.
- For reasons not fully known, teenagers experience the highest rate of secondary cancers as a result of the high dose chemotherapy treatments.
- Teenagers have the highest fatality rate of any age group. Their cancers tend to be much more rare, therefore lacking established treatments. Their cancers also tend to be far more advanced when diagnosed.
- At the time of diagnosis in teens, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body in 80% of the cases. That is compared to 20% in adults
- A 5-year study at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh concluded teenage cancer survivorship is lower due in part to a lack of access to clinical trials, concluding: "Patients in clinical trials do better than patients who receive conventional treatment. Adolescents and young adults with cancer are less likely to be enrolled in clinical trials."