Tyler’s story: November 2013 during football season, Tyler started complaining about headaches. Since he just had braces put on his teeth, we thought that the pain was being caused by the braces. After several trips and discussions with the orthodontist, it was decided to try and remove ½ of the braces. Upon doing that, ½ of his headache pain diminished but now there was numbness in his face. The second ½ of the braces were removed and the pain subsided but the numbness remained and continued to expand across the left side of his face. A trip back to the pediatrician and a referral to an oral surgeon lead to an appointment for an MRI for further investigation.
The initial MRI indicated something but was inconclusive so we were referred to a neurosurgeon where another MRI was scheduled. By this time, external signs of something not being right were evident. Tyler now had some slight swelling in his face as well as double vision in his left eye. The day of the second MRI, December 23, 2013, was when Tyler’s world changed forever. A very large mass was detected in his head. This mass was pushing on 7 of the 12 cranial nerves which is what was causing the pain, swelling, and loss of vision and now movement of his left eye.
While being whisked away to the Aflac Cancer Center, we now had to try and digest the fact that our son has cancer. With a million questions and emotions racing through our heads, we tried to settle in for what was going to be one big life adjustment. Tyler had a biopsy performed to determine the nature of the mass. The results were not conclusive as to what the exact type was but the fact that the mass was malignant. After a few more days of testing, it was determined that Tyler’stype of cancer as Rhabdomyosarcoma; a soft tissue cancer that can occur anywhere in the body. With the results in, Tyler was back in surgery to have a port and feeding tubeplaced. The decision to have the feeding tube placed was a “just-in-case”decision but turned out to be the right call due to the location of the treatment to be administered. With the facts at hand, a treatment protocol was determined...6 weeks of radiation/5 days a week and 6-7 months of chemotherapy to start immediately. With the newfound news that our son has cancer, we had to adjust to the fact that our lives as we knew them would forever be changed. The old saying “It takes a village...” has no truer meaning than for a family going through cancertreatment.
While the family member with cancer receives the actual treatment, it truly is the entire family that experiences it. We can truly say that there is no way that we, as a family, could endure the hardships, emotions, treatments, etc.without the support from our new family members. The first addition to our “village” was the smiling faces at the Aflac CancerCenter. The entire staff has been so supportive andencouraging. We truly believe that everyone on that floor was placed there for a purpose as it is a true calling to do what they do day in and day out. They have helped us navigate the torrid waters of dealing with cancer and all of itsoutreaching impacts. Having spent countless weeks over the last 5 months on thefloor at the Aflac Cancer Center, we have become real close to several members of the staff often casting jokes at one another’s expense.
We truly feel that every staff member has a vested interest and truly care in the recovery of each and every patient on the floor. Already members of our “village”, our local community gathered in support fornew reasons. This time it wasn’t for football, base ball, wrestling, or Boy Scouts but rather support for one of their own who is in a battle for his life. The constant stream of meals, cards, calls and prayersis a true indication that we areblessed. Head shaving events by his first baby sitter, the wrestling team and themiddle school principal, sale of #TeamTyler shirts and bracelets, a 24 hourmountain trail run, and countless other gifts and f undraisers are a true indicationthat the North Hall Community truly rises to the occasion when one of their own is in need.