MEMPHIS, TN (WWBT) - Tyson is a patient at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, where he is undergoing treatment for bone cancer.
What started as a bug bite and didn't respond to steroid treatment turned into a life-changing diagnosis for Tyson, who is 17.
Within 48 hours of being told he had cancer, Tyson was at St. Jude and underwent a grueling surgery to remove the cancer from his face.
"We thought maybe a bug bite, or from having his braces adjusted on his teeth," Jennifer Evans, Tyson's mother, said. "They actually did a biopsy on his face, and she came out that night and let me know that it was definitely some type of cancer."
It was later determined to be osteosarcoma.
Prior to the cancer diagnosis, Tyson had taken prescription steroids that did not improve his condition.
"Tyson needed a surgery that took 16-24 hours to remove that cancer," Evans said.
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Tyson has been able to communicate with doctors and guide his care.
"He's been able to sit down with the doctors and say, this is how I feel," Evans said. "Will you explain this a little more to me? Why are we doing it this way?"
Tyson is also part of a larger research program at St. Jude where doctors are trying to find genetic links to cancer.
Evans said the cancer has been in her family, but she never considered that there was a genetic link to it.
"Just thought it was prominent in the family," Evans said. "No idea that it was even a possibility of there being a gene cancer that Tyson carried, but in knowing that we're able to take precautions for Tyson's future."
Knowing that potential link, it gives family members a chance to warn others that they might carry the gene.
Evans said the care Tyson has received at St. Jude has been phenomenal, and he gets a lot of visitors to his room.
"They're not just nice - they care," Evans said. "If Tyler's in in-patient on the fifth floor, he'll have nurses on the third floor that will come up to say hi to him and just see how he's doing. That's more than somebody just having a job. They care about what they're doing, and that's important."
Tyson has been able to graduate from high school and go to prom.
Just being able to do regular activities has made an impact in his treatment, which Evans said is just a small taste of how St Jude brings hope to families like hers.
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