Seagraves student working to give cancer patients second chance at life

Seagraves student working to give cancer patients second chance at life

SEAGRAVES, TX (KCBD) - September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and people across the South Plains are helping make a difference in these tiny patients' lives.

CureSearch for Children's Cancer is a national nonprofit foundation working to help children battling cancer.

On Sept. 6, groups of families and fundraising teams participated in the 2014 Lubbock CureSearch Walk at Buddy Holly Park, despite the rainy weather.

Team Tyler was among them, with all members supporting 17-year-old Tyler Carmichael.

Tyler is a junior at Seagraves High School, and for him, it was a walk of triumph.

"It started when I was three," Tyler said.

It was August 21, 2000 - a day Tyler hardly remembers, but his parents will never forget.

"He was diagnosed with leukemia and we started treatment," Tyler's mother, Melba Carmichael said, "We didn't leave the hospital that day."

It took three years of hospital rooms and treatments for Tyler to be declared cancer-free at age six.

"I think everybody was glad it was over with," he said.

Just like that, the Carmichaels returned to a normal family routine in Seagraves. Tyler's weekly hospital visits turned into yearly checkups.

"We had actually forgotten to go to our appointment in October," Melba said, "our yearly checkup."

It was at that rescheduled appointment in December 2011 that the Carmichaels received heartbreaking news.

"It had come back," Melba said, "that he had a reoccurrence."

His treatments started immediately.

"After being years cancer-free and then to come back a second time after all of that thinking this is behind him for good," Tyler's father Tim Carmichael said. "Oh my. Talk about life-changing."

Since it was a reoccurrence, Melba said Tyler's treatments were more intensive than the first time.

"He didn't know any different from the age of three to six," she said. "This time he was aware of everything that went on."

Tyler was confined to a hospital bed, not an easy transition for an active teenager.

"It's a lot of sitting around, you are stuck in the bed a lot," Tyler said. "You go walk around the hospital and the nurse's desk."

During those three years of hospital rooms and treatments, Tyler had many close calls.

"We are very, very blessed," Melba said, "that Tyler is here today."

Tyler finished his last round of chemotherapy in May 2014, and is now once again cancer free.

"It was long overdue," he said. "I was really excited for it."

He went from being an 8th grader to a junior at Seagraves High School.

"I'm taking pictures with the yearbook and the newspaper," Tyler said. "It's fun so far. The classes are boring, but I mean, it's school."

However, just because Tyler is out of those hospital rooms does not mean his heart is not with other teenagers and children still fighting cancer.

"It's more common than everyone thinks," he said. "I just saw my friend yesterday, Adrian, and he's still going through it. But he's really happy, I guess, but he's bored."

Tyler will do anything in his power to make sure cancer patients like himself get a second chance at life.

"I want everyone to recognize it," he said, "and understand that everything could be different in a day. I just hope that they find a way to get rid of it."

So far, people have donated more than $2,000 to Team Tyler and they are still looking for new members to help them raise even more money before December.

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