When six-year-old Elijah was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, life changed drastically for the Tyler Family. The family of six was thrown into the difficult journey of childhood cancer.
Elijah’s initial treatment protocol required multiple four-week stays at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham to total eight months. Elijah’s mother, O’Ryan, stayed in the hospital while her husband, Todd, remained at home in Enterprise to care for the other three children.
Elijah and O’Ryan were introduced to Smile-A-Mile in their first month-long stay at the hospital. “Living in the hospital is not fun,” said O’Ryan. “Smile-A-Mile helped us have a bit of hope during such a devastating time and helped build a sense of community during our stay.” Elijah is still on treatment but is now outpatient. He continues to participate in SAM programming when he visits clinic for treatment, check-ups and scans.
The whole Tyler family quickly became involved in Smile-A-Mile’s other programming. They attended On Therapy Family Camp. Alicia and Kaylee attended sibling camp where they were able to be with other kids who know what they are going through being a sibling of a childhood cancer patient.
“I realized during our time in the hospital there are several children in the Wiregrass who are on treatment for cancer,” said O’Ryan. “There is a need for Smile-A-Mile to provide programming for families in our community.” SAM serves families from all over Alabama with the purpose to provide hope for the childhood cancer journey. The organization is in the process of expanding its mission into the Wiregrass to better serve families in their own communities. This fall, Smile-A-Mile will host families in the Wiregrass for fun and fellowship at the National Peanut Festival in addition to providing other family programs over the next few months.
“Smile-A-Mile means hope through the childhood cancer journey,” said O’Ryan. “I really appreciate everything Smile-A-Mile does. They truly care about my family and others need this type of support in the Wiregrass.
Story featured in the 2019 September Wiregrass Parents magazine.