Tyler is Eight Years Old with Cancer, But Keeps On Fighting | Unstoppable

-It was more like that. -Three, two, one. Start rolling. -We’re rolling. -Rolling. -Rolling. -[ Laughs ] My name is Tyler West. I’m age 8. And I go to St. Jude for treatment. -Tyler. Hey, buddy, you want to get up? They’re all here to see you. Around October of 2012, we noticed Tyler falling asleep in class, not being as energetic. -And then when he was playing soccer, his legs would start hurting, and he would start limping. -I kept taking him back to the doctor, and I kept saying, “Something’s just not right.” -They would either say, “Take some Tylenol. He’s having growing pains.” -They said, “There’s nothing wrong with him.” I’m thinking, “They’re crazy!” -Shawn had been out of town. He got home on a Thursday night. Tyler, that night, got in so much pain.

-February 4th is when my feet were so in pain that I could only crawl like this. I was calling into my mom and dad’s room, “Wake up!” I picked him up, and I held him all night, and I just rocked him. The next morning came. The doctor didn’t want to see him. He said, “He’s fine. It’s just normal 6-year-old behavior.” That mommy instinct just kept going, and I knew it was not normal 6-year-old behavior, and I said, “I’m taking him to the E.R.” Said, “There is something going on, and we’re gonna find out what it is.” The next morning, one of the heads of the hospital came down and said, “Someone from St. Jude is coming over.” I picked up the phone, and I called my sister. -I drove down there, and I was thinking, there’s just no way.

It can’t be. It can’t be happening again. When my daughter was 9, she was diagnosed with pediatric melanoma. -My niece Alyssa was diagnosed exactly seven months before Tyler. -And our first thought is, “Well, there’s five kids. One of them just got cancer. What are the odds that it would be that bad that another one?” -“Your child has cancer,” was the first thing the doctor from St. Jude said. After that was kind of like slow motion. I don’t need anything else in life. I just want this child that I brought home as a 9-pound, 10-ounce baby — I just want him to live. That’s all I want. -Started thinking about all the stuff going through your head about, “What were we doing that put him into this type of situation?” When you hear the words “cancer,” you know what the end result can be — It’s a terminal disease.

I believe he’s gonna be okay, and I want to believe he’s gonna be okay, but with cancer, you just don’t know. -At St. Jude, they told me that I had… I had no clue. -What I understand that is doing is basically a cancer of the blood. It’s attacking his immune system, where he can’t fight, you know, any type of virus or diseases that he gets. -What? -He’s singing “Got that move like Jagger,” line. -Oh, wow. -Did you finish your yard work? ‘Cause he’ll be back over to do that.

You missed your yard work this weekend. -Uh-huh. -I don’t care. -Dr. Pui needs you at his house to finish the yard work. -My name is Ching-Hon Pui. I’m specialized in taking care of children with leukemia. -His name is Dr. Pui. Pui. Pui. -Tyler is smart, very talkative, really a great pleasure to take care of. -He talks to me like, “Let me check in your ears to see if your brain’s there.” -One of the nurses came in, and she said, “Oh, you got Dr. Pui.” She said, “He’s the number-one leading researcher in the world for leukemia.” All of a sudden, this sense of calm came over us. We knew we were with the number-one leading researcher in the world, and he had my child right in his hands. He says all the time, “Dr. Pui won’t ever stop until all cancer’s at 100%.” -Every cancer has to get to 100%. That means nobody will ever die. -In the beginning, when a child is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family really didn’t know what to expect, and we had this whole new world that we were dealing with.

We had to deal with blood counts. -I wasn’t ready. -Okay, let’s do it again. -In the very beginning, when he has no immune system, their diet changes, and some of our rules were that he couldn’t eat rice out in a restaurant because of bacteria that forms in rice. And if he tells me don’t give my child rice, I’m not gonna give him rice. -If my counts are at 500 or above, then I’m good to go. I can eat out and eat white rice. -I remember he got to eat rice out for the first time. It was something so simple. I remember him getting the bowl of rice, and he was so excited. It was such a simple thing, but to him, it meant the world, because he was doing something normal and something that he enjoyed and he loved. -There goes your choo-choo train. -That is a choo-choo train. -We’re a big, close family. We do support each other very much. -That’s my sister Abbie. There’s Lexie. Alissa, Luca, Aunt Cissy… -The 11 of us, we do everything together. We really enjoy each other.

-Just to communicate with each other. -Tyler’s the baby. He’s the baby of the three. Abbie’s — You know, she’s the middle child, and it was tough on her. He’s always just been the brother that she fights with and plays with and loves and hates at the same time. Then, all of a sudden, he’s the sick brother, and she didn’t know how to act. And now we’re kind of getting back to that. You know, they’ll fight, and they’re doing things that normal siblings do. [ Upbeat music plays ] -Games — the thing that he loves the most. -Play, play, play, play! -Any game where he has to compete with somebody he just loves. You know, it’s one of his few enjoyments that he has that he can do. And especially with, you know, technology, he can — even when his counts are low, he can still play games with his friends, ’cause they’ll all connect up, talking through his little communicator, and having fun.

-He plays “Minecraft” a lot, and he has decided that he wants to make a St. Jude mod. So that’s what he wants to do. He wants to design this mod, and when you click on it, this mod comes up, and it’s a part of St. Jude. -The St. Jude mod is where St. Jude is, like, in the game, but you’re gonna earn coins that you can put into St. Jude, and then it will do real money to St. Jude. [ Laughs ] -You ready to get your hair cut, buddy? -Uh-huh. -Tyler…

-About a week ago, when he got sick, his hair started coming out, and it’s really, really thinning. When it started falling out, he didn’t want us to shave it or do anything to it. So, this time, he has asked that we shave his head, which we are going to do this week. But now he knows that if it falls out, it’s not a big deal, and it’s gonna grow back anyway. -You know, before, he was really carefree. Time meant nothing to him. Now time means everything to him. -He says all the time, “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to be that child. I don’t want to die.” And he lost a friend, and I think it made him more in tune. -One of my friends died. Her name was Arianna. She had brain cancer, but she survived for five years. -And so for him, he’s become a fighter. I see this fight in him, like, “I’m not gonna give up, even when I’m sick.

Or when my blood counts are off, I’m gonna keep going. I’m gonna keep fighting.” -The stuff that he goes through, he’s getting a needle in his chest every week. He’s taking this chemo every night. He’s taking pills to prevent him from getting sick from the chemo. He’s definitely a fighter. He’s fighting against biology, genetics, Mother Nature. It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna be — It’s just gonna be tough. [ Voice breaking ] I haven’t talked about it in a while. -You have to be strong, and you have to be willing to fight. I mean, it’s a lot to put on an 8-year-old boy. If I look at Tyler, I mean, he’s so strong, and he’s so joyous about it. He does what he has to do to get through it, and he does it with a smile on his face. -You think of things that were so important that really don’t matter. The only thing that matters in this life truly is your health. His strength has given us strength, though I think the strength of this family unit will get us through the rest of this. -Fighter, survivor. He’ll come on the couch, and he’ll cuddle up with me.

Even though he’s going through so much pain, he’s always smiling and always wanting to be himself. -He’s a very strong kid — a lot stronger than I probably would have ever expected. 10 years from now, he’ll be 18. Hopefully cancer was just a bump in the road. That’s what I hope for. -He just kind of goes with the flow. He’s a pretty laid-back little guy. -Now can we play video games? [ Both laughing ].

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