Patient Spotlight: Tanner Smith

This is our son Tanner. He has hopes and dreams of becoming a pilot - flying helicopters would be his choice, maybe for Life Flight. He is a kind, quite, respectful, smart young man.

Tanner's dreams were put on hold when in his sophomore year of high school, he started experiencing back pain. After chiropractic care and pain medications were ineffective he was taken to our local hospital for ex-rays, and blood work. He was diagnosed with 2 bulging disks and very low blood counts. This raised a concern with the doctor, who ordered a CT scan the following day.  This was the beginning of the fight for his life.

Tanner was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, with large tumors in both lungs and in his lymph nodes. We headed off to Salt Lake City to receive treatment at Primary Children's Medical Center. He was to endure 4 rounds of chemotherapy plus 30 days of continuous radiation at the Huntsman Center. We received the best care at both of these facilities, this was a tremendous struggle and trial for our family but we pulled together, and gave Tanner everything we had to give. He is our son, brother, uncle, cousin and grandchild.

Tanner went back to school at the beginning of his junior year, where he resumed his duties as the high school mascot, something he loved. He visited the 6 elementary schools in our district each year to promote reading, and gave each child an autographed bookmark. This was a highlight for the children as well as Tanner. He continued his studies and worked extra hard to receive good grades.  The chemo had a long term affect on his learning abilities, so this was a great accomplishment – he graduated with his class of 2010 on time, with all credits fulfilled.  

Tanner was preparing to serve a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and he received his call to serve in the Louisiana Baton-Rouge mission.  This was a joyous time for our family as we looked to Tanner's future. He had not been feeling well, with fatigue which continued for several days, so we took him to a local care center where he was tested for mono, and pneumonia, which were both negative.  But a blood test revealed the fear that has been in the back of our minds since Tanner received the drug Etoposide to help cure his first cancer. We were told this drug carried a risk of a secondary cancer, but was a must to cure his lymphoma cancer. On November 15th of 2010, four days after receiving his mission call Tanner was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). This was devastating news. Due to it being a secondary cancer, caused by a chemo drug, a bone marrow transplant and three additional rounds of chemo was the only treatment option. We can't ever begin to understand the toll this is having on his body.  

We received information that we had a donor match, a wonderful 24 year old man with an amazing heart. He will be the one to save my son’s life.  

It is with great frustration that we have to endure this new trail. This cancer is the directly caused by the drug Etoposide.  How much should a young person have to endure? One cancer was more than any 16 year old should have to face, but to beat the odds and survive only to have a far worse cancer attack his body. Please, we need more research, more funding to prevent our children from suffering at the hand of cancer.  

We spent 5 and a half months, from November 2010 to May 14, 2010, admitted to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. Tanner accepted this trail with courage and determination to survive, however he passed away the evening of May 14, 2011.  Cancer had once again returned and there were no viable treatments available to beat this evil illness. 

Please fight for our children; they are fighting for their lives.  Shouldn't we fight alongside of them? Give them our love, support and money, they are worth it.  

Thank you  

Kristi Smith  

Christine Bork
Email Christine
(800) 458-6223

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