Age: 2 years old
Hometown: Great Falls, Montana
Diagnosis: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
Embodying the endearing charms of toddlerhood, Kyler brightens the days of his friends and neighbors at the House with his burgeoning vocabulary and sparkling brown eyes. Whenever he’s able, he helps his mom with mopping, sweeping and vacuuming, and loves to walk up the stairs holding his dad’s hand on yet another visit to the train table in the lobby of the House.
Just a few months ago, he was enjoying the growing independence that comes with learning to walk and communicating with words when he developed a limp and became unusually quiet. His symptoms were considered the affects of a fever until the third doctor’s visit, when finally a blood test revealed the frightening diagnosis: ALL, a fast growing cancer of the white blood cells.
Kyler’s dad, Rob, had just over an hour to pack what he could before taking an ambulance with Kyler to the airport and boarding a Life Flight to Seattle Children’s emergency room. Kyler’s mom, Misty, stayed behind at first to arrange care for Kyler’s older sister, Felicity, and all the other family business.
Four days later, the family was together and established in the House, in proximity to the hospital for Kyler’s many months of treatment. “All of Kyler’s chemotherapy is outpatient,” explains Misty. “We have to be in Seattle so I don’t know what we’d do without the House. We’d have to get an apartment, or live in a hotel.” Fortunately, Rob’s job with an oil drilling company involves a two weeks on, two weeks off schedule, so he is able to keep working and still spend time with Kyler while supporting the family.
One of the biggest surprises to the family was how many other families are going through the same thing. “The amount of support from people here is incredible. When this happens, your whole life is flipped upside down and you’re living in a different world. A lot of time you can’t go with your child out in public because of their immunity issues. Staying at the House, you make a lot of lifetime friends,” Misty reflects.
One extra challenge for many parents is guiding their child through treatment with steroids, which are administered to calm nausea and make chemotherapy even more effective but also contribute to wild and unpleasant mood swings. Again, the supportive community at the House helps make a stressful situation a little less so.
With almost six more months of treatment ahead of him, Kyler has regained his ability to walk and continues to master the art of conversation. “It is really strange to have to see your kid learn how to walk twice,” says Misty, but in between the medicine, shots, blood counts and chemotherapy, Kyler is a loving and huggable two-year-old boy who loves to play basketball outside and is crazy about trains.