Cancer patient helping others
A Randolph County man is using his experience battling personal health issues to help others who may be struggling.
When Tyler Haddix graduated from Elkins High School in 2010, he decided to attend Davis & Elkins College to play soccer and earn a degree in physical therapy. As time passed, Hammond said he started to notice a lack of energy, and in the winter of 2012, he developed pneumonia.
Haddix’s mother, Donna, said she was worried about Tyler when his pneumonia did not go away quickly.
“Tyler had been well all of his life and I could not understand why he did not get over the pneumonia,” she said. “We took him back to the doctor and she did an x-ray and said he was healing.”
Haddix said he noticed he was not as peppy as normal, and he started having night sweats.
“Even my friends said I was not acting myself,” he said. “I asked my mother if she had ever had night sweats, and we decided we would ask the doctor about them. In the back of my mind, I knew something was not right.”
Haddix also noticed a swollen lymph node on his neck and showed it to his mother before his doctor’s appointment. When he showed the node to the doctor, he was sent to Davis Memorial Hospital for an ultrasound, followed by a CAT Scan and, finally, a biopsy.
In April, Haddix received a diagnosis of Hodgkins Lymphoma Stage 2B, meaning he had lymphoma in two or more groups of lymph nodes. The “B” indicated he was having symptoms of the cancer, mainly the night sweats. Hodgkins Lymphoma targets mostly males, age 15 to 35, and may strike after age 55.
Haddix and his family consider themselves lucky to be so close to Davis Memorial Hospital and the Cancer Care Center.
“All of the physicians were wonderful,” said Donna Haddix. “All of the nurses at the Cancer Care Center are wonderful. We could not have had better treatment. It was great that they treated us like family. It had been a hard winter and I worried about Tyler all the time.”
Donna Haddix said she was shocked by Tyler’s diagnosis.
“It’s a process, and it is especially hard when it’s one of your kids,” she said. “I knew we had to put our faith in God to get through this. I told Tyler he needed to read Psalm 91.”
Psalm 91 begins, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
The Haddix said those words helped them make it through the ordeal.
“Some of my friends had Psalm 91 tattooed on them to help show their support in my fight against cancer,” Tyler Haddix said. “Others dyed their hair purple. I am fortunate to have good friends who stand by me.”
With his diagnosis and impending treatments, Tyler Haddix went to his Davis & Elkins College professors to let them know what he was up against.
“My professors were wonderful, and my semester ended right there with the grades I had earned,” Tyler Haddix said. “I am grateful for the help and support I received from Jennifer Riggleman, Scott Goddard and Dr. MaryAnn DeLuca. I am also thankful for the support of my girlfriend, Nicole Miller, and all of my friends and fraternity brothers.”
Haddix said he was scheduled for 12 chemotherapy treatments, but following his fourth treatment, his PET scan showed his cancer was in remission. He is now scheduled to have only eight treatments.
“One thing I really miss is being able to work out in the gym,” he said. “It is hard for me not to be physically active. I am limited because of my chemotherapy port and I am unable to lift.”
Haddix said his brother Trevor was his caretaker for the summer.
“It has been a great bonding experience,” he said. “Trevor is a senior at Elkins High School and plans to attend West Virginia University to study chemistry in hopes of being a doctor.”
This year, Haddix is serving as a residence assistant at D&E, and he is president of the Sig Ep Fraternity.
“Cancer changes your outlook on everything,” Haddix said. “You come to learn that the little things don’t matter and it changes your perspective on life. You learn to pay attention to things.”
Haddix said he was grateful that, despite the chemotherapy, he didn’t lose his hair.
“You know how you feel internally, but it’s bad when it shows on the surface,” he said. “I did not lose my hair, although it thinned out a lot, and I never looked sick.”
Donna Haddix said she thinks her son’s illness brought their already close-knit family even closer together.
“We have even more respect and love for one another and this helped us grow,” she said.
Team Tyler, a Run-For-It team, aims to raise money for patients fighting cancer who need help with transportation, medication and wigs. It is a referral service for those patients at the Cancer Care Center in Elkins. People can donate to the team for support and also help by participating in the Run-For-It.
Information about Run-For-It and Team Tyler is available online at www.tuckerfoundation.net or by calling 304-259-5008.