Tyler got some bad news just before his 10th birthday. Darlene is very upset and having a hard time explaining the problem, so I am stepping in to be the voice of the family. Ashley and Tyler are in Maryland right now following a visit to his jaw doctor, Dr. Rodriguez.
Those of you who have been following know that Tyler has been in remission from cancer for many years. He is still in remission, but the late effects of cancer treatment are now catching up with him. Tyler was diagnosed when he was only 2 years old.
Radiation and chemo therapies work by attacking cells that multiply at faster than normal rates. In a small child, many healthy types of cells are multiplying quickly too, not just cancer cells. Kids who have radiation treatment in the head and neck area are more susceptible to problems that emerge years after radiation therapy. This is what Tyler is going through now.
The family found out yesterday that Tyler is going through puberty early, and he’s not even ten years old. The growth spurt brought on by the change has made it necessary to perform another jaw surgery years before it was expected. He only had the titanium jaw placed this year, after months of battles with Medicare. Now it has to begin all over again.
To add to the frustration, they will need to take bone from Tyler’s hip to do the surgery. He has already had multiple surgeries that took bone from his shins, resulting in many complications that put him in pain all the time with his legs. He has been in and out of wheel chairs and now he’ll have to go back in. Tyler does not want to go through another surgery that requires them to take bone from another part of his body.
Cancer has robbed Tyler of his childhood. Before he was old enough to remember he was in cancer treatment. The late effects have haunted him all his life, stealing any chance for a normal childhood. Now his childhood is ending early.
I simply can’t imagine a life where I never had a chance to be a kid at all. Even with the tough upbringing I had, there were times when I was able to just be a kid and play in the yard with no worries. Tyler has never had that experience and it just never seems to end. The kid just can’t catch a break.
Not only have has his endocrine system been affected by radiation therapy (because radiation for his jaw tumors also damaged parts of his brain) but he also has weak bones, another common late effect of chemotherapy. Taking bone from another part of his body might not even work. We can only pray and trust in the power of God and the strength of your prayers.
Clearly, prayer works. Tyler has beat all odds, living now 3 years longer than any other child with his diagnosis. With Tyler’s kind of cancer, remission is a high likelihood, but he is still cancer free. He has also dodged cancers that can be brought on by the radiation therapy tiself.
These facts remind me that maybe Tyler has caught a break, if only we can remember the positive things our prayers have accomplished. Remember these things when you pray and ask God to help Tyler and his family through this difficult time. Thank you all so much!