Archive for June, 2011

Choose Faith

   This 2nd round of chemotherapy has been much more manageable for Tyler.  With some new meds and maybe a little more ‘savvy’ on his parent’s part, we have all done better this time.  In fact, for the first six days after treatment he seemed to be doing so great. 

   Last Friday and Saturday was our ward’s youth conference and Tyler had been asked to come share his testimony in the morning as they began the conference.  He was very nervous, but knew it was something he needed to do, and had even written some notes on the things he wanted to be sure and remember to say. 

   About two in the morning, Darren and I heard Tyler yell out for us.  We both flew out of bed, running to see what was wrong.  Tyler had become very sick in the night.  He was throwing up and was dizzy, weak, and in pretty bad shape.  Darren and I had to hold him up over the toilet bowl because he was too weak to even hold himself up.  It was extremely hard to watch him struggle, and we were all pretty discouraged.  After about two hours, Darren and Tyler finally fell asleep on the bathroom floor.  I went back and laid in bed and just felt so low.  Our house felt scary and dark, and I wanted to just curl up in a ball and cry.  I couldn’t figure out why after seven days things would go so wrong.

   That morning, Darren and I both thought there would be no way that Tyler would make it over to the church for the conference.  We didn’t even try to wake him up.  However, he got up on his own and began getting ready to go.  When I sort of questioned him about it, there wasn’t even a moment of hesitation on his part – he was expected to be there, and he was going.

   We made it over there, a bit late, but there nonetheless.  When it was time, Tyler bore a beautiful testimony about the power of prayer and the reality of miracles.  He shared his favorite scripture – Mormon 9:15-21.  He thanked the youth for all the prayers on his behalf, and let them know that prayers are answered and when life is hard, Heavenly Father is always there to turn to.  I don’t think there was one dry eye in the room.  The Spirit was very strong in there, and I think the youth were very impacted by his testimony.  I know I was.

   As we visited with Becky Anderson and the Bishop after the meeting, and we shared what had happened the night before, we all felt like maybe the adversary was involved in the darkness the night before.  As we looked at the faces of the youth there listening, we knew that Satan did not want them to feel the Spirit, or hear that their Heavenly Father is there, ready to help them. 

   I’m not sure that the adversary has the power to make Tyler that sick, or if just the discouragement we all felt was from him, but I do know that I surely felt fear and discouragement.  During the conference, I felt hope, peace, love, and comfort.   I know I need to consciously choose to feel faith and hope.  If we let fear and discouragement into our life, we have nothing.  When I really think about it, why do we ever allow ourselves to let those feelings into our lives at all, for any reason?  They are completely counterproductive.

   A sweet friend sent me a card the other day with this quote from President Hinckley:

   “Faith is greater than ourselves.  It enables us to do what we have said we’ll do…to press forward when we are tired or hurt or afraid…to keep going when the challenge seems overwhelming and the course is entirely uncertain.”

   From now on…I choose faith.

The Power of a Song

Most of you who know me know I love music…any kind – rock, classical, country, anything. I play the piano a lot in our home, and it often drives my kids (and husband) crazy. In fact, I found an email Tyler sent to Taylor on his mission last month that said something like, “Taylor, I can’t wait till you get home and start playing your guitar again. I’m sick of listening to mom play the piano all the time!” I have definitely not done a great job instilling a love for the arts in my boys!
So consequently, my favorite job in the church is the Primary Song Leader. I have been blessed enough to hold that calling for years, in a few different wards. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s probably the greatest calling in the church! Who couldn’t love being with all those smiling, unassuming angels for two hours every Sunday and listening to them sing their hearts out? I truly felt the Spirit every Sunday as they sang. A few years ago, one of the songs on the Primary Program was “How Firm a Foundation”, from the Hymnbook. I loved that song anyway, and as I taught that song to the children, I was always close to tears as they sang for me. I loved teaching it, and seeing their faces as I tried to understand what it meant, and feeling grown-up enough to sing a song from the adults songbook!  Now that I have a new calling and I don’t get to be with the children anymore, every time they sing that hymn in Sacrament Meeting and I hear all those extra voices singing a song they recognize, I get all emotional! I used to even jog to that song on my ipod and get emotional over it then! (Darren is rolling his eyes now, I’m sure.  It doesn’t much to get me emotional.) Maybe even back those years ago, Heavenly Father was preparing me for what was to come.
The first time I left the hospital after staying with Tyler for probably three days and nights straight, I got into my car, and completely exhausted, started heading for home. As I pulled out of the parking lot of PCMC, the CD player started in with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the third verse of this song. (For those of you who do not own the ‘Called To Serve’ CD from the choir, go out and buy it today!). I was brought to tears by that verse and felt so comforted as they sang those powerful words. I kept rewinding that song all the way home, and actually sung (in my pathetic voice) along with the choir the whole drive. Somehow, I felt comforted by the time I got home and climbed into bed.
Later that week, some dear friends had brought me the book “Divine Signatures”, by Gerald N. Lund. As I opened up chapter three, on the first page – there it was, written out for me again. Isaiah 41:10, 13 – basically the third verse of “How Firm a Foundation”. In that chapter, it tells of a mother named Amanda Barnes Smith, who lost her husband and son in the Haun’s Mill Massacre. Another son was critically wounded, having his entire hip shot out at point black range by the mob.
She tells of her experience in her journal and her pleading with Heavenly Father to heal her son and asking for help on how to care for him. She was literally led to burn ashes from a certain tree and make a lye and saturate the wound. It helped to clean everything out. Then, directed again, she filled the wound with a poultice from an elm tree. Then she waited and prayed. Five weeks later, while out fetching water, she heard a scream from the house. Running towards the house, terrified, she then saw her son, dancing about the house, completely healed. He went on to serve a faithful mission and testified of the living God and His miracles.  Another testimony to me that a mother can pray for the well-being of her son, and God hears and answers her prayers…
I have loved that song for years, now it has a new meaning for me.  Here are the words to the third verse:

Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed.

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

I do know that while this trial is not going to be easy, it will teach our family what is important.  And we know that Heavenly Father is with us.  I have never doubted that, even in my darkest hours.  He has not left us alone to bear this burden.  And someday, when we’re allowed to look back over the path of this life, we will probably see that we were carried through more of it than we realize.  Thanks for your continued prayers on our family’s behalf.  We feel them and we lean on them every day.  We love you!

Chemo: Round 2

I usually like to let Erika write these posts. She can say things so much better than I can. But she keeps nudging me to post this one, and as I’m sitting here watching the Cisplatin drip from the bag into Tyler’s body, it seemed like something productive to do…
Tuesday night was probably one of the most difficult times we’ve had since the diagnosis. For the first time, Tyler had a really difficult time and was just wanting “his normal life back”. He just wanted to be with his friends doing what they all do during summer vacation, feeling good, eating whatever they want, and not worrying about anything but what party they are going to next. If I were in his shoes, I would have had twenty of these meltdowns before now.
It was my most difficult night since the diagnosis. I want him to have a carefree summer too. A 14-year-old shouldn’t have to worry about things like this. If I could take this from him and go through it myself, I wouldn’t even blink an eye. It would be done. I spent a lot of time that night in tears and questioning why, even though I really already know some of the answers.
The next morning, I was still having my ‘pity party’ and Ty woke up bright and happy, as usual. We went on a car ride somewhere and I told him that if I had a ton of money, we would donate it to cancer research and would make them find a cure for this stinking disease. He calmly said, “Mom, there is never going to be a cure for cancer.” I said, “Yes, there is. Maybe Tanner will be the one to find it!” (Tanner wants to be a doctor)  Tyler said, “Mom, Heavenly Father lets there be cancer on the earth so we can learn how to love and serve each other. Look what is happening to me. And think of how we will be when I am done with this.”
Wow…okay….I’m having a self-pity night, and he’s thinking about how people are serving him. He constantly reminds me that we can never be the same when this is over. I will never be the same.

I am constantly humbled by how much we have been the recipient of kindness from family, friends, and even strangers. The Black Clover Golf company, who Tyler loves, called me the other day and wants to donate a bunch of their products to Tyler’s auction.  They actually thanked me for the opportunity to help out.  Diviine Modestee, who I had never heard of until two weeks ago has offered to give Tyler 2% of their sales for the next month.  I could go on and on about the businesses and people who so willingly give of their hearts, their time, and their means for Tyler.  All who are working on the ‘Anything for a Friend’ event…I can never repay all of your kindness, but please know that our family will pay it forward forever, and never again be caught up, too busy to notice other’s needs.

Thank you so much to all of you who are working so selflessly to help Tyler and our family.  May Heavenly Father’s choicest blessings be yours!  We love you!

Ty golfing a week before he was diagnosed with cancer…..

….. He’s still got it!!!

Dylan can do it!

Like I said in my earlier post, we met a lot of amazing people at Cyndi’s event, one of them being the sweet and beautiful Mandy Shaw. Her son also has cancer. Please show your support for the Shaw family by visiting their blog and reading their story!
His blog is

Cyndi’s fundraiser

We had the opportunity to attend Cyndi Tangren’s “Anything for a friend” fundraiser. Cyndi is a sweetheart and we feel so lucky to have been part of her special night.  We met a lot of really neat people! We met several people who are cancer survivors, or who have a family member with cancer. It is comforting to know that we are not going through this alone. There are a lot of very good people in this world who are ready to serve and help others. Our family has witnessed amazing acts of kindness from our friends, family, and even complete strangers. We have all decided that we must pay it forward. We will never let a day go by without showing the compassion to others that has been shown to us. Life has really taken on a whole new meaning and purpose. We know what we must do in this life…. We must serve others with the pure love of Christ.

President Monson said:

“I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish-and in effect save their lives.”

I am so thankful that we were able to participate in Cyndi’s event. We had an amazing experience and saw that people will truely do “anything for a friend”.

Thank you Cyndi and the rest of the AFAF family for giving Ty such a warm welcome. We love you!

Watch this….

What an amazing story…. Heavenly Father has a plan for each and every one of us. We know He is looking out for Tyler.

Another beautiful weekend

We enjoyed another great weekend as a family. We sure miss having Taylor around but know that he is where he is supposed to be. We love you Tay!

The weather was fantastic this weekend so we tried to spend as much time as we could outside! We indulged in a little basketball and miniature golf. Ty was very opposed to me taking pictures of him…. With his hair falling out in patches, he claims he looks like one of those stray dogs you see in South America. He is a goof! With his ANC counts being so low, we can’t shave it with a razor yet because the risk of infection is too high. So it is just falling out on it’s own accord! He is looking more and more like his dad everyday!

We are so glad that Ty was able to get out and do some fun things this weekend! It is no fun being locked up in the house! His ANC levels are slowly starting to rise again so hopefully he will be able to be with friends soon! Second round of chemo starts in 10 days…. We hope to have many enjoyable and sunny days in the mean time. Team Tyler is still cheering loud and strong! We love you Ty! Keep fighting!!!!

Shaved heads everywhere!!!










Everywhere we look, we see shaved heads and mohawks! It is so cool! I know we say this all the time…. but WOW!!! What an amazing support system Tyler has!!! We are so so so blessed to have such amazing people in our lives. What would we do without you?? It means the world to Tyler to see all of your support. It is the best medicine for him and will help him to fight even harder against this cancer. Tyler’s diagnosis has not only changed our family, but our whole entire community.  We know that this trial will bring all of us closer together. Friendships and bonds will be formed that will never be forgotten. We know it is not coincidence that Ty has cancer. It is a whole lot bigger than that and we may not understand it entirely in this life. What we do understand is that Tyler is a very special boy with a very special mission and he has been blessed with a very special group of people to help him complete his mission. We love you and simply cannot thank you enough for your love, prayers, and support.

Tyler said the other day, “You know, this really isn’t so bad. There are people in this world who have it worse than me.”

Shouldn’t we all have this attitude? Whenever I catch myself complaining, I have to remind myself of Tyler’s comment.  There are people who have harder trials than we do. We should always be grateful for the good things we have in our lives. If Tyler can have such a positive attitude with cancer, I can have a positive attitude as well.

Ty, you are our hero.