Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category

Scan Results

Okay, I’ve been a slacker on updating the blog. To be honest, I was enough disappointed in Tyler’s scan results Thursday afternoon that I just didn’t want to talk about it anymore…but by the time I got over it and stopped feeling sorry for us all, I just got too busy this weekend. So, before I tell you about our fun event last Friday, here’s a quick rundown of the scan results…
The scan showed that Tyler’s tumors had not shrunk yet. They did, however, show some change in texture, which the doctors feel may be an indication of the blood supply being cut off to the tumors. They feel encouraged by the news, and scheduled the next round of chemotherapy for Monday, July 11th. We will probably be in the hospital by the time you get this post!!! Tyler was disappointed with the news, as we all were initially, but as we talked as a family that night, we decided it took these tumors 12-18 months to get there…what made us think it would only take two rounds of chemo to get rid of them?! No bad news is good news, right? So, on we go, ready to fight again with rounds three and four. Next scan should be the end of August. Keep praying!
Now, on to the good stuff! Tyler’s wonderful friends from school and some of their parents organized a car wash last Friday at Patriot Car Wash on Highway 193 in Layton. The wonderful owner there, Ken Golding, without knowing Tyler at all, generously donated his facilities to us from 11:00-3:00 that day and 100% of the proceeds went to Tyler’s ‘Anything for a Friend’ fundraiser. If you ever wash your car again, (I’m not so diligent at that) make sure you frequent Patriot. This guy is amazing.
When Ty got up to get ready for the car wash, once again, his stomach wasn’t cooperating fully with the rest of him. When we got to the car wash, he sat in the car for a bit trying to get a hold of it. It was fun to see that as the kids started coming to help, and the cars

started rolling in (and they truly were rolling in!), he started perking up and came out to sit in the shade and watch the kids. As the excitement continued and cars just kept coming, he got up and started washing cars in the bays with all the kids. As they laughed and washed cars together for hours, he couldn’t keep the smile off his face. It’s amazing how the state of mind can truly take over the body!  As you can see from the pictures, he grinned all day! I wasn’t going to stay there all day, but after watching these amazing kids show up, pitch in, and enjoy service, I wasn’t about to leave. I am so grateful to the parents and kids for their service to Tyler. This is what keeps him fighting and winning – the desire to be able to still hang out and laugh with his friends. Thank you is never enough for what you all have done. When Ty gets better, we are having the HUGEST pizza party ever at the Smith home! (Sorry neighbors, once again!)
Now, I have to share my latest inspirational quote. I love to look to these regularly to keep us all in the mindset we need to be in. Darren actually found this and put it on the fridge and the bathroom mirrors. I had read it before years ago, but was grateful to be reminded of President Hinckley’s wise words of counsel:

“It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It all works out in the end. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers.”

I know that’s true and once again, grateful to be reminded that worry and fear get me nowhere. If my trust is where it’s supposed to be, everything will happen just as it is intended to. Thanks again, friends of Tyler! You put a grin on his face that lasted all weekend long!

Not just another Sunday!

Thank you again to those of you who are fasting and praying on our family’s behalf.  The Lord is aware of each of us and He hears your prayers.  I want to share what happened to our family Sunday evening, not to trivialize an amazing spiritual experience, but to share with you how your selfless prayers and purposeful fasting is blessing our family.

I got a phone call on my cell phone late Sunday afternoon from a number I didn’t recognize.  When I answered, he asked if this was Sister Smith.  This isn’t so unusual because with my church calling, I get called “Sister Smith” quite often.  When I answered that it was me, he said, “This is Hal Eyring.  I am the first counselor in the First Presidency…”  I think I may have interrupted him to tell him that he didn’t need to explain who he was…I already knew!  He laughed and asked how Tyler was doing.  We spoke for a few minutes, then he asked if he could come visit Tyler. 

President Eyring, his beautiful wife, and daughter and son-in-law came to our home on Sunday evening to visit with Tyler and our family.  I am still so touched that he would take the time to visit our family when I know his time with his own family is so limited and precious to him.  While he was here, he made us feel like it was his privilege to be with us, instead of the reverse.  That is how full of love and compassion he and his family are.  They genuinely were concerned and showed so much love to our family.  President Eyring and my dad were President and Vice-President of Ricks College in the 70s so it was fun to hear him and my dad reminisce about old times.  He sat next to Tyler and talked to him like a grandfather would talk with his grandson.  It was amazing.

We were privileged to have him give Tyler a beautiful blessing.  Darren, Brian, my dad, and President Eyring’s son-in-law Jacob all were able to stand in the circle.  What an incredible spirit there was in our house!  Words cannot express what a beautiful experience we were able to have.

As they were getting ready to leave, I asked if it was okay to take a picture with him and Tyler.  He pulled his camera out of his pocket and asked for a picture as well!  He told us that every evening, he writes an entry and sends it to each of his children, all over the country about his experiences of that day.  He looked Tyler in the eye and told him that Tyler was his gift for that day.  How amazing is that?

I know that this experience was a tender mercy from our Heavenly Father, as a direct result of the fasting and prayers of our loved ones.   What a comfort his blessing will be to our family in the weeks to come, when we have answers we need and another round of chemo to get through.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers!  Please never forget that they are being heard!

Paying it Forward!

I just thought I’d post an update on Tyler’s progress and the schedule for the next week. Tyler is feeling pretty well, considering his ANC (Absolute Neutrophil Count) is 0.1. This number means that his ability to fight infection is pretty much non-existent. We have to keep him in a safe, germ-free (well, as germ-free as possible) environment. He hates this week because he can’t hang out with friends. It’s no fun to hang out with your parents when you’re fourteen. I’m not too old to remember that! He is a pretty good sport, though, playing games here, going on lots of rides in the car, and lighting fireworks with just Darren and I in the yard. (Sorry neighbors!) Hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday he’ll be back up in the normal range and can see his friends again.
Tyler’s scan is set for Thursday at 10:00 a.m. He has not had one since his initial diagnosis, so this will tell us if and how the cancer is responding to the chemotherapy. We feel very hopeful about the results and are looking forward to having some answers on Thursday afternoon. We ask for your continued prayers, and for your fast tomorrow on Tyler’s behalf. We thank you so much for your prayers in his behalf so far! We know Heavenly Father is very aware of Tyler and our family, and we also know He hears and answers the prayers of His children. We are constantly in awe of the goodness and kindness of people we both know, and don’t know at all. We have a ‘prayer map’ in our family room to remind us how many people are praying for him. It is filled with yellow and green (temples and cities) dots and they are all over the map! It is hard to be discouraged when you look at the map and know that prayers are being uttered for Tyler all over the world!
We had fun ‘paying it forward’ today. Sweet Dylan Shaw and his family had given Tyler a tree filled with cash and gift cards to restaurants. (Those with cancer know what a blessing that is! To feed someone who has such a hard time finding something that tastes good is not easy!) This thoughtful gift has made Tyler smile over and over. Every time he is hungry, he looks through the cards and decides where to eat! We decided to replenish the tree with cards and cash and ‘pay it forward’ to a wonderful boy in Syracuse who is battling a rare cancer as well. Tyler and I drove all over yesterday and he chose restaurants that sounded good to him. What a great way to forget your own troubles for a while! I loved spending that time with him-driving, parking and running into restaurants. Today we spent the morning tying bills and cards to the tree. This afternoon, we drove out to his house and gave it to sweet Brandon. We hope this tree will make its rounds around the Northern Utah Area and brighten others’ days like it has ours! Thank you Dylan for such a selfless gift! There are wonderful families everywhere fighting the same battles we are and we are grateful for such amazing examples of faith and strength! Please keep Brandon and Dylan and their families in your prayers as well!

Dylan and Tyler

Brandon and Tyler

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 www.dylandshaw.blogspot.com

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….

http://mormon.org/me/3J19/Tessa

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!!!!

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