The Giving Tree Update

7 October 2012

Since the ‘Giving Tree’ fundraiser, we have been busy getting trees ready and have delivered five more trees since my last ‘Giving Tree’ post!  This has been such a tender opportunity for me – seeing these sweet people struggle with cancer hurts my heart so much, especially when I understand the pain and uncertainty they feel.  But, seeing a glimmer of hope and maybe a few minutes of forgetting the sorrow to feel others love for them helps fill an empty place in my heart.  I have had several people tell me that they wonder if it is a good thing for me to be involved in – that it is like rubbing salt in a fresh wound.  I have thought about this a lot the last few weeks.  I have come to the conclusion that yes, while this hurts and brings back many painful memories, I do know that this is what Tyler expects us to do.  He would want us to continue serving and helping others feel happiness and hope.  In some measure, that is when I feel closest to Tyler…I cannot say I have seen him or heard him, but I have had some tender mercies and feelings where I know he is near and please with what is happening.  That is a pretty big return for me!

I want you to meet these amazing cancer warriors that we have learned to love the last few weeks – this post is full of pictures, but I hope you will feel their valiant spirits and strength through this post.  Please remember each of them in your prayers.

Brandy is a true hero in so many ways.  Brandy and her husband had been  married only a couple of years when he was electrocuted while sailing.  He was pronounced dead at the scene. Through excellent medical care and his strong will to live, he was brought back to life and was in intensive care for months.  The electricity caused severe nerve damage and pain and “split” open both his arms and legs. Through Nolan’s years of recuperation, Brandy was his uncomplaining help-meet.  She pushed him in the wheel chair, took care of him, and provided for the family.  Gone were both their dreams of Nolan becoming a Jet Fighter Pilot with the air force.  They now have two young girls who are both kind and optimistic, just like their parents.  A few months ago, Brandy was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.  She has responded with such faith, stating that she learned long ago that Heavenly Father is truly in control, so just have peace and do your best and He will control the outcome.

Brandy and her family!


Sweet Lexe is fighting a hard battle with leukemia.  She has been very, very sick and in ICU literally fighting for her life.  She was not able to attend the event where the giving tree was presented, but her dad, Mark was there to accept it and take it to her.  I have to share the story of how this tree came to fruition.  The Anything for a Friend organization held an amazing fundraiser for Porter, who just lost his leg, due to Ewing Sarcoma.  Sweet Porter wanted to share his blessing and help someone else like he was being helped.  He helped to raise additional money for the Giving Tree by emailing his neighbors and friends and having them donate gift cards and cash to add to Lexe’s tree.  He presented this tree to Lexe’s father at his own fundraiser.


Porter and his family presenting Lexe's tree

The next tree was especially dear to my heart.  Braeden has been diagnosed with Medullblastoma, a brain tumor.  Braeden reminded me so much of Tyler.   He is an athlete – loves and excels at many sports – and has that ‘swagger’ that Tyler had.  I see the same fighting spirit in Braeden that I experienced with Tyler.  Braeden told me that he had received a FaceBook message from Tyler right before Tyler passed away.  He sent me that message – it read,

That is so precious to me.  Braeden was in the hospital when he received the message – when he came home on Monday, before he had a chance to respond, he learned Tyler had passed away. It’s been a while since I felt that close to Tyler like I did when I drove home from Braeden’s house.  What a gift to me!  These sweet families all helped to add generous amounts to this tree and we had a great time decorating his tree before delivering it:

Taylor, Parsons, Armenderiz, and Kohl families decorating the tree!

Braeden and his family

This next tree was an exciting, touching experience for me as well.  My wonderful brother and his family, who live in Virginia, have loved and supported Tyler and our family through our cancer journey, praying, fasting, and supporting us from across the country.  They have shared Tyler’s message and this blog with their friends and neighbors there, and we have felt love and care from many back in Virginia!  Ron and Debbie wanted to get involved in the Giving Tree experience as well, and knew of another warrior, Brian Collister, a boy from their local high school. Brian is 18 and has rare T-cell lymphoma. There are only 50 cases diagnosed annually in the world so there are no specialists. It is a super rare type of cancer and to make things more difficult he has a rare blood type. The school did a search trying to help them find a bone marrow donor.  They did a nationwide search, found a donor for his transplant and he is doing well (relatively). He has been at Sloan Kettering Hospital since May 18th recovering and is slated to come home soon! He is staying in Hope Lodge which requires a 24/7 caregiver. His mother cannot provide it because she has MS so relatives have been trading off.

Debbie, in typical ‘Debbie’ fashion, took it upon herself to do a giving tree – and so much more!  The two high schools in the area played their rivalry game a few weekends ago.  Debbie figured this was the perfect night for the fundraiser, being as both schools knew of Brian and his plight.  Check out these pictures from the game!  My heart was so touched when I saw these amazing kids serving and raising money for Brian.  They raised $3400 for this great family!

My awesome brother Ron posing with my favorite shirt - "Cancer does indeed suck!"


Love this...


My darling niece, Camry, posing with the Mascot at the football game!

Warrior Brian - with friends, family, and the Giving Tree (Virginia Style!)

The last tree to date is still in the works…just thought I’d add a sneak peak of my new amazing friend Tristan, who is a cancer cutie himself, actively fighting Ewing Sarcoma.  Tristan lost his leg a few months ago, but still felt a strong need to help Hunter, whose story will break your heart.  Here’s Tristan preparing the tree – it is scheduled to be delivered tonight.  I will post Hunter’s story and his amazing strength and courage in my next post…


Getting ready to deliver the tree to Hunter

Thank you for helping make these possible!


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