We immediately went to war, contacting doctors, hospitals, research facilities, and pharmaceutical companies across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. We found doctors who were of incredible help, true life savers willing to push every limit in their passion for kids. And we meet others, so blinded by egos that they could never accept another diagnosis.
The support from our family and community was incredible. Friends came to he hospital to shave their heads in support of Tyler. They held hockey, dodge ball, basket ball, and softball tournaments. When Tyler came home, over 300 friends from high school stood in the back yard yelling "Fight to Win!"
I still have no idea how, but word spread everywhere. We have received emails of prayer support from every state and 67 countries. We then got calls, visits, and emails from Jack Hanna, Tony Dungy, Jason Taylor, Dwayne Wade, Brady Quinn, AJ Hawk, Wayne Gretzky, Archie Griffin, Chris Quinn, Dan Marino, Jim Tressel, and almost every player for the Blue Jackets, and The Ohio State football, hockey, and basketball teams.
In June of 2008, Tyler went into remission. At that time we were given a laundry list of long term side effects from the high dose chemo dumped into his body. But Tyler fought the side effects the same way he fought cancer. Doctors said he would not be able to return to school full time. But he did, getting his best grades ever. They said he would not be able to return to sports. But by winter he was playing DYA Basketball every weekend. Then, when the docs refused to sign the waivers to re-join the track team, he joined the high school volleyball team.
Always fight to win.
Through all of this, we knew the stats on relapse. The numbers are incredibly high for teenagers with advanced stage IV Burkitt's. Every month these numbers ran through my mind as we went back for scans and blood work. But Tyler has continued to improve, feeling and looking great.
While in the hospital, Tyler had told me that he was very lucky to have Burkitt's. He talked about the brave kids battling cancer years, and the dealing with relapses for another 3-5 years. But with Burkitt's, everything happens fast. Doctors describe it as cancer on speed. It grows fast, spreads fast, relapses fast, and dies fast. Tyler said he was fortunate to have a cancer that was beatable within a year. And, although relapses are much more common, the time period is much shorter. Relapses are extremely rare after a full year of uninterrupted remission.
This week we are back at Children's for scans. Initial reports will be back Friday, and then will be sent to other doctors for review. All clear results on these scans will officially mark one full year of uninterrupted remission. The war will have been won!
Always Fight to Win!
Relay For Life
This week-end is Dublin's Relay For Life. It is a great event, and Kathy has worked a lot with the group run by Stephanie Reed. Last year was the honorary ambassador for the event. He was there as they were setting up. But he was just coming off of chemo, and became ill and went home before it began. This year he will be absent again, but for a different reason. He will be on his way to the Caribbean to use his newly earned SCUBA certification card. What a difference a year can make!
Team in Training
Preparing for two marathons is a little harder than I thought it would be. Tyler still says I am too old, too fat, and too slow. But I did it last year, so I will do it again. Actually, I am getting faster. Last night was my best time ever on a 5 mile run. I think I'm going to get a new running shirt, and write on the back, "If you can read this, you have just been passed by a fat guy!"
Please remember our friends in your prayers.
Joe Friend, an incredible young man with an amazing heart. He and his young wife were just told his fight will be a little longer and a little harder than ever expected. The news leaves Joe with only one choice... fight to win!
Mason McLeod continues to get strong. He attended a Braves game last night in Atlanta. I would love to see the expression on the faces of the doctors who said he woould never survive this long.
Rachael Tippie is doing great as she blows past the date that the doctors said she would never see. (in case you haven't noticed a trend, i have a low opinion of doctors who speak in absolutes)
Justin Hutchins continues to fight. His road has become very difficult.
Matthew Barr, Brayden Bueter, Alex Pothast, Christina O'Bryan, Clayton Booth, Ty Ulmer, and Zac Mason all fight with a level of courage and character I can only imagine.