Tyler - 17 year old fighting cancer!

Tyler - 17 year old fighting cancer!
Ready for Battle!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Today is Ty's 18th Birthday

Happy Birthday to our buddy. He's still stuck in the ICU, and not able to talk or eat or truly celebrate, so we'll have to celebrate when he's out. Normally, we'd be gathering at the coney warehouse for some pizza and Chicken Shack and watching football for his bday. Then we'd get the ice cream cake out to sing and he would be really annoyed by all that attention. He'd be rolling his eyes and suffering through it...just because he knows his annoying family is also generous and would give him some cash for his bday after the painful singing bit.

Tyler continues to be in a lot of pain and discomfort, but making progress on getting better from being septic. We will be finding out tomorrow what the plan is from here. There has been some talk of getting him transferred to UofM or somewhere else that specializes in this rare cancer. Please pray that the doctors and Michelle will have great wisdom on what the next move will be. Please also pray that his insurance coverage isn't affected by his age, and that everything will be covered. If not, we continue to be blessed by the generosity of those that have donated. If you want to wish Ty a happy birthday by giving a donation, we would so appreciate that.  His mom is unemployed, as some of you know, and she still hasn't left his side. Such devotion! If you find it in your heart to donate, just click here http://www.gofundme.com/1drbvk . Thank you!

The Zanetti Clan

Since it's a day of blessing that Tyler is 18 and most of this blog has been about the current status of Tyler and Michelle, I thought I'd give a little more background about them and who they are to me. If you want to hear a good story about someone, you gotta start with their mom, right? Well, Tyler's mom, Michelle, is my first cousin. Our moms are sisters and are the very best of friends. They live just a few miles from each other and are nearly inseparable. They are the kind of sisters that go to their doctors appointments together, are there for each others kids and grandkids, gather for every major holiday or even just an average dinner during the week, etc. That bond has been passed down to the next generation of sisters too.

I'm an only child. Michelle is the youngest of 4 girls in her family. She and I are 3 years apart. I grew up like their little sister. Michelle and I were truly like sisters. You know, as kids we were the best of friends, but also couldn't stand each other...all in the same moments. We spent lots of time matching and folding socks (in a family of 6 that's a lot of socks!) as punishment for our bickering. In elementary school, we loved walking up to Lauer's novelty and buying candy or fake gummy cigarettes. We had to sneak those because we got in trouble for the fake cigarettes. So, we'd eat them super fast before we got home from our walk. In the summers, we were turtle hunting partners at our family cottage. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, you could find me and Michelle (and some other cousins) in our row boat, in the canal, with our nets out and a bucket full of turtles. We knew all of the hot spots in the canal...and used to coin Sunday morning as turtle church day since they seemed to love to bake together on logs on Sunday mornings. 

We remained friends even in our teens, although we still argued quite a bit. Michelle got her license and a little blue K car when I was still in junior high. So, it became her job to pick me up for school and drop me off every morning. Then we went to high school together - her senior year, my sophomore year. She still had to drive me to school every day...only her boyfriend Tim was a new passenger in the car - so I had to sit in the backseat. We worked together after school too (at the coney, of course). We spent tons of time together. 

Towards the end of that school year, when everyone else started talking about what they would do after high school, Michelle found out she was pregnant. She was young and Tim was younger, but everyone in our family welcomes a baby with no questions asked. Michelle had a long and hard pregnancy, at least from my perspective. This was my first experience watching someone I loved grow a whole human life inside of them. I was excited and nervous for her. She had toxemia towards the end of her pregnancy and was so swollen she had to go on bed rest. I remember spending many afternoons rubbing her feet and bringing her meals until Tyler came. 

My mom was Michelle's labor coach. She spent 30 some hours in labor with him and ended up having an emergency c-section. Poor thing. But Tyler blessed our family with his presence on Oct 28th. Our family was thrilled! A new baby! We had so much fun playing with him, watching him, taking him places. We all doted on that little man. Aunt Di and Uncle Bill took such pride in their 2nd grandson - what a blessing for them to now have grandsons after having 4 daughters! Tyler grew up with all these aunts, and "aunts", and great aunts...well basically tons of women just loving on him. The men in the family weren't excluded...Uncle Bill would take him on rounds at work all the time, they'd watch football together, etc. Tyler went to elementary school on our street. So a lot of afternoons my mom or dad would pick him up after school and he'd come to our house and hang out. I'd help him with his homework. Michelle would join us for dinner before taking him home. They love spaghetti, or anything my dad is cooking up (besides vegetables!). 
Aunt Cindy and Uncle Don (my mom and dad)
We all supported Michelle so she could continue working and going to school, even as a teenage mom. She and Tyler have this awesome bond, she rarely left Tyler's side. Although right now, he is mostly sedated and can't communicate what he's thinking, you should see him when she leaves that ICU room. His eyes dart around looking for her. He waits impatiently for her to return (most of the time from a 2 minute trip to the bathroom). He squeezes her hand to tell her not to go anywhere if she mentions leaving the room for a bite to eat or a trip to the potty. They have a great friendship that is evident today. Her strength continues to amaze us while we watch her take care of him. 

It's crazy to me that it has been 18 years of having Tyler in our lives. He's always been a shy kid, but strong. He doesn't love attention (maybe we overdid it when he was little!). He loved his cars more than any other little kid I knew. He and Michelle (and others) used to come visit me in college. My dorm was a girls only dorm, so we would jokingly announce "little man on the floor" when he would walk down our hallway as a 3 yr old. We called him "bubbah" for the longest time. He was the cutest little thing! He grew up to be a typical teenager...hated school, loved watching football, listens to rap music, often being sassy to his momma. You know, all those teenage things. 
Little Ty and Josh on my wedding day

As Tyler was wrapping up high school earlier this year, he decided to get serious and made it his goal to join the Army. This summer he set out to lose weight and get in shape. He was doing great and had lost nearly 70 lbs by the end of the summer, but something wasn't right. He had had some stomach issues for the last year or so, that they diagnosed as a wheat allergy. But now, he was experiencing a lot of pain in his lower back. So much so that he couldn't sleep in a bed at night. He had spent 2 months in a recliner chair. He was also throwing up quite a bit and would be in a lot of pain most of the time after he ate. Those are the symptoms that started him on the journey that led to his diagnosis at the end of September. 
Baca and Michelle - our other "sister" and one of Ty's workout partners

The same love and support that our family showed a teenage girl who got pregnant is still shining through for that baby (and his momma) 18 years later. I didn't include all of our cousins' and aunts' pictures, but there are more (note to family - we need more pictures together...if you have some email them to me!). We have an amazing family! It seems like it has been countless nights of being in that hospital, but we'll be there as long as it takes for Tyler. I know I keep saying it, but we truly are blessed that you all have chosen to come on this journey with us. If you're still reading this long post :), we appreciate your time and prayers and donations. Thank you and God Bless! 

Happy Birthday, Ty! We love you so much! You can have whatever you want for your birthday - we'll give you the world. Just keep fighting, buddy! 

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