Tyler Gower Courageously Battles Cancer


Riley Rosi, Reporter

Tyler Gower was diagnosed October 15, 2014, with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Gower, who intended to register as a freshman at PHS last year, could not because of his diagnosis. He was not able to register this year as well because he endured a bone marrow transplant in June and cannot be around too many people as his body and immune system recover.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month; more specifically, September 13th is recognized as “National Childhood Cancer Awareness Day”.  Each year, over 10,000 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer.  Gower’s battle makes that fact a reality for the PHS community.

“I was super scared! And in shock. But I knew I would win,” said Gower about his diagnosis.

Gower spent most of his freshman year at Mary Bridge Hospital, enduring weekly doses of chemotherapy. He would then let his body recover and build its strength back, which could take upwards of thirty days.  He repeated this treatment for a total of four months.  Gower also received numerous transfusions, IV medications, and a study drug that he continues to take.  

He then moved to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in February 2015, where he received three days of high dose chemotherapy, along with eight total full body radiation sessions to prepare his body for a stem cell transplant.  Gower received stem cells from a donated umbilical cord and continued with treatments at the Children’s Hospital. His last transfusion was in June.

“Now I am making my own platelets and blood!  And my body accepted the transplant,” said Gower,  now 15 years old.  

As with any cancer diagnosis, the news is devastating to more people than just the patient. Gower’s family has been thrown into a difficult situation in which they must support him and keep up with his complicated treatment process.

“Tyler’s body is trying to fight off the new cells from the transplant and we are starting to taper the high dose steroids he has been on since March.  He will have long lasting effects from these meds,” said Allison Gower, Tyler’s mom.

Communities are becoming aware of cancer research and are contributing to the effort to find a cure.  Swim Across America was a recent event held in Seattle.  Austin Small, a PHS student and friend of Gower’s, participated in the event, swimming two miles and raising $760 in Gower’s honor.  Small and Gower have been friends since elementary school.  

“The swim was about raising money for cancer research and being able to help in a very small way compared to the fight that people with cancer have to go through every day,” said Small.

Since 1967, Swim Across America has held events all over the country to raise money for cancer research.  This year, one of the recipients of Seattle’s race was the Seattle Children’s Hospital, which is coupled with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Gower received his transplant through the Alliance.    

A large part of Gower’s struggle is not being able to attend events with his friends because he has to protect his immune system.  As touched as he was that Small would swim the Seattle event for him, Gower was disappointed that he could not be present for the race.  He is looking forward to reuniting with his friends again.

“Yes! I want to be a normal kid! I want to be with my friends and put this cancer thing behind me. I will get to return in my junior year,” said Gower.