According to a story from jsonline.com, Tyler Trent, a Purdue University student who captured the hearts of thousands with his struggle against osteosarcoma, passed away at age 20 after his cancer reappeared for a third time. Tyler had ambitions to become a nationally recognized sports writer and was widely known as a huge supporter for the schools Boilermarkers football team. Tyler’s positive outlook and wisdom in the face of a deadly diagnosis blew up on social media and gained him wide recognition in Indiana and beyond.
Osteosarcoma is a type of rare bone cancer that most commonly appears in teens and young adults. While rare, it is nevertheless the most common type of cancer to originate in bone in humans. Risk factors for this type of cancer include family history, exposure to radiation, previous bone diseases, Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, and Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Osteosarcoma often appears near areas where bone is growing; in young people, the area near the knee is commonly affected. Signs and symptoms of this cancer may include pain around the affected area that may worsen at night, a sudden breakage that occurs without much pressure (the disease weakens bone structure and makes breaks much more likely), or a swollen area. Treatment for osteosarcoma often includes surgical removal of the affected bone, chemotherapy, and the drug mifamurtide. Survival rate varies considerably depending on the circumstances of the case, but rates of long term survival have increased in recent years. To learn more about osteosarcoma, click here.
Tyler was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the summer of 2014. He had been playing ultimate frisbee although he has been complaining of arm pain earlier. Then, when throwing a pass with the frisbee, his upper arm snapped. The young man received treatment in the form of surgery and chemo and the doctors eventually declared him cancer free; unfortunately, another tumor appeared almost three years later on his pelvic bone.
All through these difficulties, Tyler remained dedicated to Purdue football and attended as many games as he possibly could. He began to draw attention as he became a nearly permanent fixture at the games. In the meantime, he donated part of his tumor to Purdue Center for Cancer Research and also founded an organization called Teens With a Cause. This group recruited teen volunteers to help out families that had been affected by cancer with day to day chores.
As his body began to shut down, Tyler’s fame continued to grow. It is likely that he never fully understood how his helpful attitude and energy was able to impact the lives of so many.