One patient reflects on the impact of Tyler Trent

This week, 20-year-old Tyler Trent, who inspired so many through his courageous battle with osteosarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer), passed away. Tyler touched countless souls, including people like Parkview Cancer Institute patient John Schoonover, who recently went through his own battle with the disease. We invited John to celebrate the life of Tyler, by reflecting on the impact this young man had on him.

What can you share about your cancer journey, John?

I was diagnosed with sarcoma in July, which is similar to but not as severe as what Tyler had. Dr. Christopher Johnson put a plan together for me, which included surgery, radiation and surveillance.

I had my operation on my lower left leg at the beginning of October, reconstruction surgery, a series of radiation to minimize the chance of the tumor spreading and recently did my first surveillance. Right now, everything is very good. I’m cancer free. I’ll do surveillance every three months, but I’m expecting everything will stay good.

When did you first hear about Tyler Trent?

A few months ago, I read something in the paper about him. Naturally, I notice things with the term “sarcoma”. Then I read more about it. He’d been battling for quite a while.

How did Tyler inspire you?

He was just a very strong individual. The biggest thing for me personally, was how he refused to stop living his life. He lived to the best and fullest he possibly could. He didn’t focus on the ”whoa is me”.  He did just the opposite.

I’m retired now, but in my career I tried to focus on servant leadership, where you focus on what you can do for others and not so much on yourself. Even though I never met the young man, I know Tyler was a strong servant leader. Unfortunately, he lost the war, but I thought he put up a valiant fight. He refused to give in. It’s easy to lean into the self-pity, and he didn’t let that happen.

What will you carry with you from Tyler’s journey?

To live life to the fullest. To do the very best you can. Don’t sit back and use a diagnosis as an excuse. I had a trip to Nashville planned, and it ended up falling three weeks after my surgery. I decided I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from going. There were a lot of extra things we had to do since I wasn’t extremely mobile, and it would have been easier to just sit at home, but we did it. Of course, there are limits and you have to be realistic. My wife is also a cancer survivor, 11 years now. We don’t like cancer, but we focus on the future.

I do believe having a strong, positive – I don’t want to just say attitude, it’s more of a constitution – that you’re not willing to let the cancer beat you, is extremely monumental in your battle. It’s imperative.

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