At The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH)’s Children’s Cancer Centre, the sound of bells echoing through a corridor is a sound of celebration. It means that a patient is officially in remission, and ringing the cancer bell is something that both parents and children dream of doing.
In August 2022, six year old Tyler finally achieved this dream, ringing what he called the “celebration bell” to signify the end of his long cancer journey.
“Tyler dreamed of ringing that bell throughout his treatment – that and throwing a big ‘no more chemo party’ with his friends and family,” said Kevin and May, Tyler’s parents.
“As we were walking down the aisle with Tyler to ring that bell, we had these instant flashbacks of all the ups and downs over our two year plus journey. It was a surreal, emotional, and joyful moment. We were so incredibly proud of Tyler and what he has endured,” they added.
Tyler’s cancer journey at the RCH began in 2020, after he came down with a persistent fever. He was not responding to pharmacy medication and started developing red spots around his eyes and neck. Soon after, Tyler told his parents he couldn’t breathe, so Kevin and May rushed him to the Emergency Department at their local hospital. Doctors ran blood tests which revealed Tyler’s condition was highly complex and needed specialist paediatric care.
“They told us there was no better place to go than the RCH. They were in contact with the hospital and within 30 minutes an ambulance from the RCH arrived with an Intensive Care Specialist on board,” said Kevin.
From there, Tyler was admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit where clinicians ran further tests. It was then, that Kevin and May heard the words no parent is ready to hear, “your child has cancer”. Tyler was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (type B), a type of blood cancer which severely weakens the body’s immune response. During the toughest time for Tyler’s family, the support from the team on the Kookaburra Ward became a highlight for Tyler and his family.
“We feel so privileged to have been supported by the RCH. Our high regard for the hospital has not changed throughout Tyler’s treatment. The passionate and dedicated team at the RCH have continued to go above and beyond for Tyler and we are continually amazed,” said Kevin.
“I remember when we visited the Gold Coast In January 2022, and Tyler caught COVID. We called the RCH around 10pm and they coordinated everything for us and arranged a quick admission for Tyler into the Gold Coast University Hospital later that night.”
While Tyler’s treatment was a roller coaster, he has now resumed life as a normal kid. Inspired by his parents, Tyler dreams of working hard to achieve his wishes and dreams.
“He says he would like to work hard and make lots of money so he can afford to buy all the things mum and dad won’t buy him,” said Kevin.
Kevin and May have kindly passed on some positive words for other parents going through a tough time, and the emotional transition of looking after a sick child.
“During Tyler’s treatment at the RCH, the staff became like second family to us and that will never be forgotten. For any parents going through a similar situation, try not to look too far ahead and just take it day by day. Hang in there as you are in the absolute best of hands,” said Kevin and May.
Learn more about Tyler’s story, and the incredible support of his parents