27 year old Tyler from Ballymena is sharing his story of being diagnosed with cancer at 12 years old to help raise awareness of the impact of Cancer Fund for Children.
I was diagnosed with a mediastinal germ cell tumour in my chest at the end of March, or early April in 2009 when I was 12 years old. It was a real shock to the system. I wasn’t aware that children could get cancer. To me, it was something older people got. I remember laughing just in shock when they told me.
My uncle had also just passed away and I was in hospital going through the process of getting diagnosed the day after his funeral so the whole family was already in chaos and there was no time to process anything.
I had 6 intense bouts of chemo scattered over the next 6 months. I was scared but it was just one of those things I had to accept.
I’ve always been into fishing. It was something I did after school and during the Summer months with my dad and after I was diagnosed I was told I wouldn’t be able to fish because of the germs. A nurse who was visiting me at home during treatment told me that wasn’t true and to leave it with her and 2 weeks later Gareth Beattie from Cancer Fund for Children was on the phone.
His visits gave me something to look forward to. We started off fishing and then he took me bowling and go-karting and I really enjoyed it. There was always competition and banter. It was never serious. I was never just a child with cancer. It never just felt like his job. He was a genuine person that shared his interests with me and let me share my interests with him. And I caught a bigger fish than him many times over!
Looking back, there are no words. It was amazing support that I didn’t even know I needed. I was so wrapped up in the house and worrying about my mum and dad’s feelings.
My first sailing trip away was with the Ellen MacCarthur Trust with Gareth as well and if it wasn’t for Gareth I never would have got to run with the Olympic torch in 2012. He nominated me and I ran with another Cancer Support Specialist and a mum the charity supported.
Cancer Fund for Children’s family fundraiser Naomi also invited me to a club lunch at Glentoran Football Club and I got to meet a lot of the players. I was just a teenager and a big fan so this was great.
A few years ago, I organised a fishing competition with Kilgad fishery and as a group we decided to do another one this year for Cancer Fund for Children. 25 people took part and we collected sponsorship money, donations and held raffles and had prizes on the day. We raised £2,458.