Tristyn’s story began as most happy stories do. She was born into an awesome family with great parents. She was raised in the Salt Lake area of the state of Utah, where she still resides today. She is the oldest of six children. She has four younger sisters and one younger brother. Throughout her early years, Tristyn was a very fun loving and social little girl, with a lot of sass! She had a lot of friends and a charisma that drew people to her. She loved the outdoors and was often found playing in her street with all of the neighborhood kids or camping with her family. Life in Tristyn’s younger years was great: no drama, no real concerns, and an upbringing surrounded by amazing people that loved her and supported her.
The Love Connection
Tristyn first “officially” met her husband, Kamron, when she was 12 years old, although they had technically been in each other’s lives since they were little kids. Tristyn’s parents are best friends with Kamron’s aunt and uncle. This connection made it so their lives were intertwined from very early on. In fact, on one occasion, when Tristyn was just a babe, Kamron’s grandmother saved Tristyn’s life by grabbing her ankle as she was falling head first out of a shopping cart. It seemed as though fate was bringing them together from the beginning. Tristyn and Kamron grew up going to a lot of the same birthday parties as well as on a few camping trips. Kamron says he can remember one time playing at his cousins house with Tristyn when they were really little. He distinctly remembers thinking she was really cute and trying to flirt with her.
The “official” meeting of the two love birds didn’t take place until they were both in junior high school. It was the summer between 7th and 8th grade for Tristyn. All of the families (Tristyn’s family, Kamron’s aunt and uncle, and Kamron’s family) decided to get together for a week long Lake Powell trip that summer. Kamron remembers saying this to his mom when the group stopped at a gas station on the way to the lake, “Mom, you didn’t tell me there were going to be cute girls on this trip! Who is that?!” As soon as Kamron saw Tristyn step out of that suburban in those grey sweat shorts and pink tank top, he was locked in!
That vacation was the spark that started the ball rolling for Tristyn and Kamron. Tristyn played a little hard to get at first. On the first day, Kamron and Tristyn were talking on the upper deck of the house boat when Tristyn’s little sister walked up and blatantly asked, “do you like him?” Tristyn’s response was quick and to the point, “No. I like Mitch, remember?” Kamron was a little discouraged, but he knew he couldn’t expect her to say yes to that question after only talking with him for a few minutes! Kamron wasn’t deterred by that answer. He was determined to try to figure this girl out. Kamron spent the rest of the trip chasing Tristyn around pretty much everywhere she went. Even though they were both so young, there was a lot of chemistry between them, and a genuine friendship began to grow. On the last day of the trip, when Kamron’s family was about to leave, Kamron asked Tristyn if he could have her number. Tristyn responded, “You don’t have anything to write it down with.” “I’ll memorize it!” Kamron fired back, and he did.
From that point on, Tristyn and Kamron’s relationship grew constantly over time. In the beginning, it was mostly just phone calls and MSN chats as neither of them could drive. As soon as Kamron could drive, however, you can probably guess where he went first! They dated on and off all through high school. Kamron recalls that even when they were on breaks, he always knew he wanted to marry Tristyn. He would tell anyone who asked about his interest in girls that Tristyn was the end goal for him.
In 2012, Kamron decided he wanted to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This would mean that Tristyn and Kamron would be seperated for two years! After many long talks, they both decided that it was the right thing to do. They knew that if they were meant to be, it would all work out and it would make them stronger in the end. And so, on April 18, 2012, the two went their separate ways for what would be the longest time they would ever spend apart.
The time apart was hard on both of them. They missed each other like crazy! Tristyn wrote her missionary hand written letters faithfully every week. She longed for the time when the love of her life would return, but she kept herself busy with work and education to pass the time. She went to school to become an aesthetician. While at school, she made many life long friends and grew a lot. As Tristyn matured into adulthood, she had an epiphany. Tristyn realized that up until that point in her life she hadn’t really discovered her own identity. It had always been “Tristyn and Kamron” and she didn’t really know who she was as an individual. After much prayer and deliberation, Tristyn made the decision to write Kamron off and take some time to find herself. She said it was one of the hardest decisions she ever had to make, but she knew it was the right thing to do at that time.
The next several months were monumental for Tristyn. She really began to discover herself and find out what she wanted in life. Her friends and family played a major role in helping her through the decision to write Kamron off and take this next step in her life. During this time, Tristyn didn’t really know how her love life would end up or if it would be with Kamron. She just felt in her heart that it would all work out so she focused her time and attention on other things. Tristyn graduated from aesthetics school and went on to start her career working for NIMA, the aesthetics school she graduated from. Life was progressing in an orderly fashion and Tristyn was in a very good place.
As the time grew closer for Kamron to return home from his mission, Tristyn began to feel a lot of confusion. All of the feelings that she had for Kamron in the past were starting to come back. She was unsure of how to handle these emotions as she hadn’t really thought of the possibility of Kamron being in her future. She wrestled with these thoughts and emotions the last few weeks before Kamron returned home. In the end, she decided that she wanted to see him and talk to him about everything when the time was right.
Kamron returned home on Friday, April 18, 2014. Tristyn’s anxiety was through the roof! On one hand, she was heart broken that she wasn’t at the airport to welcome her best friend home, and on the other hand, she was confused about whether or not Kamron should even be a part of her life anymore. She decided to reach out to Kamron’s brother to see how things were going. She told his brother that she wanted Kamron to know that she wanted to talk about things when he was ready.
Kamron called Tristyn later that night and said that he wanted to take the weekend to focus on his family, but that he would love to take her out to dinner the following Monday to catch up. Tristyn accepted the invitation, but didn’t really know what to make of it. She was so excited to see him again, but she was also still very confused about everything she was feeling! Monday could not come soon enough!
Monday did come, and after two long years, Tristyn and Kamron were reunited. They both later said that from the moment Kamron picked Tristyn up for the date, it was like nothing had changed. The chemistry, the friendship, and the mutual respect were all there. It was as if Kamron had never left. They had a long talk over dinner. They discussed everything from Tristyn’s reasons for writing Kamron off to what they both wanted for their futures. They came to the conclusion that they both still had strong feelings for each other and so they wanted to start dating again and see where it might lead. They both agreed that they wanted to take it slow and make sure that they weren’t just getting “caught up in the moment.”
Taking it “Slow”
Tristyn and Kamron never spent another day apart. They were engaged in one month and married after 3. They really had intended to “take it slow,” but the love they felt for each other was so strong and growing everyday. They knew they were meant to be. No matter how many times they had been separated throughout their journey, something always brought them back together. Marriage was just the next natural progression in their relationship, and they both felt that they had waited long enough! They set a date to be married on July 17, 2014.
The Best Day
Tristyn & Kamron were married and sealed for time and all eternity on July 17, 2014.
Starting a Family
After 3 years of blissful marriage, Tristyn and Kamron decided that they wanted to start their family. Tristyn became pregnant in September of 2016. To say that Tristyn was “elated” to be a mother would be an understatement. All of Tristyn’s best qualities are that of a mother. She is loving, nurturing, and compassionate. She had always wanted to be a mom and now she was finally going to get that opportunity! A couple of months later, they found out they were going to have a little girl. Tristyn and Kamron were ecstatic! They had already discussed what they wanted to name their first daughter way back in high school. Scarlett Louisa was scheduled to be born on June 20 of 2017.
This is the part in Tristyn’s story where things took an unexpected turn. Up until this point in her life, Tristyn hadn’t had many major concerns or dilemmas, apart from your typical ups and downs of life. What she was about to go through would test her will power more than anything she had ever experienced before.
In the winter months of early 2017, Tristyn began to notice a lump on her chest just above her left breast. At first, Tristyn and Kamron did not think much of it. They thought maybe it had something to do with her pregnancy and her hormones affecting her breast tissue. They decided to just keep an eye on it and see if the swelling would go down after a while. A couple of weeks later, the lump was still there, so they decided to take Tristyn to an insta-care to have a Doctor take a look at it. The doctors at the clinic were not sure what to make of it. They said they too thought maybe it could have something to do with Tristyn’s breast tissue reacting to the hormones from the pregnancy and advised Tristyn to ask her O.B. about it.
At Tristyn’s next pregnancy check up, she showed her doctor the lump. His initial reaction was that of uncertainty. He did not know what the lump was, but didn’t think it was something that needed to be worried about. He set up an appointment for Tristyn to meet with a specialist “just to be safe.”
As Tristyn’s appointment with the specialist approached, her anxiety began to grow. She had no idea what the lump was, but the fear of all of the unknown possibilities was difficult to bear. At the appointment, the doctor told Tristyn that he wanted to do an ultra sound on the swollen area. Tristyn, not sure what they would discover, held her breath as the doctor began the examination. The doctor placed the cold probe on Tristyn’s chest and Tristyn looked up at the monitor. What she saw next was extremely unsettling. As the doctor rubbed the ultra sound probe around the swollen area, Tristyn could see numberless black masses coming up on the monitor. Her heart sank. She did not know what the black masses were, but she knew it couldn’t be good.
After the appointment with the specialist, he told Tristyn that they would have to do a biopsy of the area to find out what exactly was growing inside of her. Shortly thereafter, Tristyn underwent different tests and checkups, including a surgical biopsy of the area in question, and anxiously awaited her results. These weeks were absolute torture for Tristyn. All she wanted was to live her life and focus on the excitement of her pregnancy and becoming a mother. Now, all she could think about was the fear of the unknown and what the future might look like for her family.
After an agonizing waiting period, the results finally came in. On March 24, 2017, Tristyn, who was 28 weeks pregnant at the time, received the most terrifying phone call of her life. The person on the other end of the line told Tristyn that she had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a common type of blood cancer. Tristyn and Kamron, and their families, were left in utter shock and disbelief. This is the type of news you never expect will come to you, especially with Tristyn being so young. This 23 year old expecting mother could only do one thing, pray and ask God to help her through what was to come.
After many tears and moments of despair, Tristyn prayed and received the strength she needed to carry on. She made the decision to not let this burden take away from the joy and happiness of bringing her baby girl into the world. If you ever meet Tristyn, you will discover that she is one of the most courageous and determined people on this planet. Since this time in her life, she has had her good days and her bad days, but she has NEVER given up. She has always done her best to maintain a positive attitude and has been a light and a beacon of hope to all those around her.
Tristyn’s prayers were answered in more ways than just receiving strength. The outpouring of love and support from family and friends was overwhelming. A GoFundMe account was organized on Tristyn’s behalf to help with medical expenses. The resulting generosity and love that came from that campaign could bring anyone to tears. Tristyn’s family received help from friends, family, old acquaintances, and some people they didn’t even know. This wave of love, support, and prayers for Tristyn and her family was just what they needed to help them push forward to the next stage of their journey.
From the time Tristyn was diagnosed, her life was filled with constant doctor’s appointments. Not only did she have to meet with an oncologist regularly, but she was also now considered a high risk pregnancy, which meant she had to meet with her O.B. a lot more frequently. Tristyn remembers that she would often think, “I just wish I had my life back!”
Together, Tristyn’s oncologist and O.B. came up with the best possible plan for Tristyn and her baby. They wanted to start Tristyn’s cancer treatment as soon as possible, but they also did not want to hurt the baby in any way. The plan they came up with was to induce Tristyn 6 weeks before her actual due date and start Tristyn on chemo therapy shortly after the delivery. This way, they could still safely bring the baby into the world and give Tristyn the best chance to respond to the chemo therapy.
From the time Tristyn and Kamron got over the initial impact of the horrible news, they knew that they did not want this trial to take away from the excitement of their first child. They did their best everyday to enjoy the pregnancy and think of how happy they would be once they could hold their precious little girl in their arms. Tristyn continued to live life to the fullest everyday and always kept a smile on her face! Her attitude was infectious and she lifted the spirits of everyone around her.
That sweet smile remained on Tristyn’s face up until the day that she became a mother. On May 9th Tristyn went into the hospital to be induced, and on May 10th, 2017, at 1:58 pm, Scarlett Louisa (loo-eye-zuh) was born.
Some people might say that it was terrible timing for Tristyn to get cancer while she was pregnant with her first child, but Tristyn would tell you, “It is a miracle that my baby came when she did.” Everyone in Tristyn’s family agrees that little “Lettie Lou” is an angel sent from God. They know that Tristyn’s daughter was sent down at the perfect time to be able to help her mommy get through the most difficult trial of her life.
The joy that Tristyn experienced after meeting her daughter for the first time was indescribable. She was so happy to be a mom. Unfortunately, those joyful feelings were soon accompanied by fear and pain as Tristyn’s treatment was just around the corner. Tristyn began chemo therapy just five days after giving birth to her little girl.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with chemo therapy, it is a series of different drugs that are pumped into your body over a certain period of time. These drugs are intended to attack and kill the rapidly growing cells in your body. As a result, the chemo should attack and kill the rapidly growing cancer cells. Unfortunately, this also means that the chemo will attack all of the body’s other rapidly growing cells as well. These cells include skin cells, blood cells, the cells that cause your hair and finger nails to grow, and many others. This is why cancer patients are often left feeling very sick and weak as they undergo cancer treatment.
Tristyn had to have a central line surgically placed in the right side of her chest in order for the chemo drugs to be transferred directly to her main arteries. Tristyn’s treatment regimen consisted of chemo therapy every 3 weeks for 6 months. She had to go sit in a chair at the hospital for several hours each time as the drugs were slowly dripped into her body.
Tristyn and Kamron had a lot of hope going into cancer treatment. All of the experts would often tell Tristyn, “If you had to pick a type of cancer, you would want to pick the one you have!” Hodgkyn’s Lymphoma is a very curable cancer that has been being treated for years. In fact, the chemo used to treat this type of cancer, known as ABVD, has a 90% cure rate.
Finding Joy in the Journey
Over the 6 months that Tristyn was going through chemo therapy, she never let the burden change who she was. She was still the same positive, fun loving girl she had always been. Though she didn’t feel well, and was often left completely exhausted, she still managed to be an amazing wife and mother and always made the most of every single day.
Though Tristyn did an amazing job at finding joy in the journey, there were still many difficult hurdles she had to overcome. One of the most difficult hurdles in the beginning of Tristyn’s battle with cancer was losing her hair. A woman’s hair is often times a huge part of her identity and what makes her feel feminine. For Tristyn, letting go of that part of her identity was heart breaking. Tristyn started losing her hair about a month after starting chemo therapy. She remembers it coming out in clumps after she would shower or brush her hair. It was devastating to see her bathroom floor covered in her hair and to feel like there was nothing she could do about it. Eventually, she decided to cut it shorter in hopes that it would last a little longer. Thankfully, her hair lasted just long enough for her to feel comfortable for her sister’s wedding.
Shortly after her sister’s wedding, Tristyn decided it was time to shave it all off and go bald! She was scared, but so brave at the same time! Looking back, she says she wishes she would have done it a lot sooner. She said “it was actually freeing” and probably would have been better to just rip off the band aid rather than to drag it out. As you will see in this video, she still managed to smile through the tears and move forward with a positive outlook as she lost something that had always a been a part of her.
Tristyn losing her hair didn’t slow her down one bit! She moved passed it and lost herself in living life to the fullest and continuing to make the most of every single day.
Tristyn credits much of her strength throughout her treatment to her little girl. Her daughter brought so much happiness into her life. “You can’t look at that little girl without smiling!” she would often say. Tristyn would also say that Scarlett was a great distraction for her. She gave Tristyn the opportunity to think about someone other than herself. She wanted to be a mom first and meet the needs of her child before worrying about her own. This was a great relief from the stress and anxiety that can come from the worry of cancer. Everyone around Tristyn and her family knows that Scarlett was the angel sent to comfort Tristyn through her battle.
The First Scan
At about the half way point through Tristyn’s chemo treatment, her oncologist ordered a pet scan so they could see how the cancer was responding to the treatment. Tristyn took the pet scan and once again found herself anxiously waiting for results. About a week later, Tristyn had an appointment with her oncologist to go over the results of the scan. The scan results were amazing!!! Tristyn’s cancer was shrinking and everything looked like she was on track to be in remission upon completing the chemo therapy! This great news was such a relief to Tristyn and her family. It was the first “good news” they had received since Tristyn’s diagnosis. Tristyn left that appointment with a renewed hope. She was ready to get the treatment over with and move on with her life.
First Last Day of Chemo
Life can seem very monotonous when you are going through cancer treatment. Constant appointments with doctors and never feeling like you have your full strength gets old really fast. It seems as though you are just starting to feel better every time treatment comes back around. Just the thought of having to go back in for another round of chemo is dreadful. Despite all this… Tristyn did it! She made it through the slow motion of her 6 months of cancer treatment and her last day of chemo therapy did finally come.
This was one of the best days for Tristyn. She did not know what the test results would bring back, but based on the first scan she was very hopeful that it was almost time for her to finally be able to move on with her life.
The Waiting Game
One of the worst parts about going through cancer treatment is waiting for results! Tristyn had finished her chemo therapy, but her pet scan would not come for two more months! The purpose of doing the last scan so far out is to make sure that the last dose of chemo therapy has had time to run its full course and take full affect. And so, Tristyn and her family were left once again waiting on pins and needles until the day when they could find out if the nightmare was truly over! Thankfully, they had their angel to help them through the wait.
December 4, 2017
What is worse than being told you have cancer? Being told you still have cancer after going through 6 months of chemo therapy. December 4th was one of the hardest days of Tristyn’s entire journey. This was the day that Tristyn met with her oncologist to go over the results of her post treatment pet scan. The results of Tristyn’s scan were that the cancer was still growing and had spread to other areas. Everyone, including the doctors, were shocked at this outcome. The previous scan had looked so promising.
That wasn’t the only bad news that Tristyn received at this appointment. She was also told that the next line of treatment would cause Tristyn to become infertile. For Tristyn, this news was worse than being told she had cancer. At this moment, Tristyn could no longer put on a brave face. She broke down and sobbed while her husband and her oncologist tried to console her. This is the last thing that any woman who is in the early stages of starting her family wants to hear. Tristyn and Kamron knew that they wanted to have at least three more children, but were now unsure if that was possible.
New Hope, New Plan
Thank God for the advancements in medical technology over the last few decades. We now have many different ways to help people who struggle with fertility. Shortly after hearing the terrible news that Tristyn would become infertile, Tristyn spoke with her oncologist about what other options there were for her to be able to have more children. Her doctor told Tristyn that there was still hope for Tristyn to become pregnant later in life through in vitro fertilization (IVF). She told Tristyn and Kamron that this process was extremely expensive, but that if Tristyn really wanted to be able to bear children later in life, they should meet with a fertility specialist before Tristyn’s next treatment.
Tristyn and Kamron set up an appointment to meet with a fertility specialist right away. The fertility doctor confirmed that there was absolutely still hope for Tristyn! He was confident that they could extract Tristyn’s eggs, fertilize them with Kamron’s sperm, and later insert the fertilized embryos back into Tristyn’s body. Tristyn and Kamron were so humbled and filled with gratitude when they heard this news. They had been so devastated and were willing to do whatever they could to give Tristyn the chance to bear more children in the future. They were so thankful for the medical technology and the donations from the GoFundMe account that made this option possible. The GoFundMe account originally set up for Tristyn and Kamron gave them the gift of being able to one day continue growing their family. The people who donated to that account have no idea how much they really helped Tristyn and Kamron. Tristyn and Kamron consider those donations one of the greatest blessings in their lives and hope to one day be able to pay it forward to other people going through hardship.
Over the course of a few weeks, Tristyn underwent the beginning stages of the IVF process. In the end, they were able to successfully extract and freeze three fertilized embryos. Tristyn and Kamron were so happy. They would be extremely grateful if even one of these embryos resulted in a pregnancy down the line.
The new plan for treatment going forward was intense and scary, but Tristyn had already been through so much. She knew that with the help and support of her family and friends, she could get through it. The plan was for Tristyn to go through a few more rounds of a much more intense type of chemo therapy known as ICE. Following that chemo therapy, she would under go a stem cell, or bone marrow, transplant. This transplant would include one week of the most vigorous cancer treatment an individual can go through without dying, followed by an infusion of new stem cells to save her life and give her a new immune system.
This new treatment plan had many risks, but Tristyn’s doctors felt that it gave her the best chance of beating the cancer. In order for Tristyn to be ready for transplant, the prior chemo therapy treatments would have to get her into remission, or at least to a point where the cancer was almost completely gone. A transplant performed before a cancer patient has reached this state has a very low chance of being successful. Tristyn would also have to plan on a very lengthy stay in the hospital after transplant as she recovered. The doctors warned her that this procedure is extremely taxing on the human body and it would be a very long time before Tristyn felt back to her normal self.
Pressing Forward With Faith
At this stage in Tristyn’s journey, all she could do was put one foot in front of the other and have faith that God had a plan for her. Spending time with family really helped strengthen her as she prepared to undergo her next treatment. The timing worked out perfectly so she was able to enjoy Christmas and New Years with her family just before she would start her next treatment on January 5th 2018.
The next round of chemo therapy required Tristyn to stay in the hospital over night as they slowly dripped the chemo into her body over the course of 24 hours. She would do this once every two weeks for a month and then they would do another scan to see how things were going. As Tristyn began her 2nd first day of chemo, she still managed to put on a smile as she had always done throughout her entire journey.
This new chemo regimen was as bad as the doctor’s said it was going to be. Tristyn was more fatigued, more nauseous, and in more pain than what she experienced from the previous chemo. You wouldn’t know that if you asked her. Tristyn is not a complainer. Only those who are really close to Tristyn knew how much she was suffering. She would often say, “You know, there is always someone who has it worse than you.” If someone were to ask Tristyn what the worst part about that overnight chemo was, she would probably say something like, “just being bored!”
Tristyn and Kamron always had amazing support. They missed their daughter when they had to go to treatment, but the grandparents on both sides always took great care of Scarlett while Mommy and Daddy were away.
Tristyn finished up the first two rounds of ICE near the end of January. She had another scan shortly thereafter and scheduled a time to meet with her oncologist to go over the results. Tristyn said that every time she had an appointment to go over results it felt like she had P.T.S.D. The day of the appointment would come and her stress level would sky rocket. She couldn’t help but be filled with fear at what the doctor might say. She was so used to receiving bad news that she started to expect it. This day was no different. She walked into the hospital afraid, but she was still courageous enough to face whatever news she would receive.
This particular appointment for Tristyn felt like a dream. It was almost as if someone took her back in time to replay what she had already been through. The results, once again, the cancer was still there. The new plan, once again, try a different kind of chemo therapy that would hopefully get Tristyn to the point where she could go forward with the transplant.
The only difference this time around was to try a different kind of chemo therapy. The new chemo therapy, known as Brentuximab, was a very promising option for treatment. It was a new type of chemo therapy that was designed to go into the body and specifically target the cancer cells. It would then attach itself to the cancer cells and kill them, leaving the rest of the body’s normal cells in tact. Though there wasn’t as much research backing this new kind of treatment, it had encouraging results so far. Tristyn and Kamron were hesitant to get their hopes up, but they were happy to be trying something new that looked like it might do the trick.
Tristyn learned a very valuable lesson at this stage in her battle with cancer. It can be very discouraging to hear that an ongoing issue in your life is continually left unresolved. Tristyn came to the realization that you have two options in this type of situation. You can be bitter and ask “why me?” and focus on all the things that are wrong with your life. Or you can accept your circumstances and do your best to move forward and count your blessings. Neither option is pain free. If you accept your circumstances you are still going to feel pain as you go through hard things, but if you don’t accept your circumstances you are only causing yourself increased suffering. When we don’t accept our circumstances, we are never able to feel at peace about where we are. This causes all of the negative aspects of our life to overpower and take priority over the good things in our life, leaving us in despair.
Tristyn chose to accept her circumstances and live life without focusing on the cancer. Cancer would still be a part of her life, but she wasn’t going to let that aspect of her life take priority over what mattered most. She continued to live life as normally as possible, going to treatment and doctor’s appointments when necessary, but still having fun and focusing on raising her daughter. This outlook enabled Tristyn to see how blessed she truly was and to make some amazing memories with her little girl and her family despite everything else going on in her life.
Dry, Rinse, Repeat
This same pattern continued in Tristyn’s life for several months, even into the summer of 2018. She did three rounds of the Brentuximab, got a scan, and received the news that the cancer was still growing. She then tried a totally different type of cancer treatment known as immuno-therapy. This type of therapy is supposed to boost your own immune system so your immune system can fight the cancer better. She did three rounds of this and got the same results. You would think that going through this type of pattern over and over again would cause many people to give up. Not for Tristyn! She still had a life to live and love to give!
Another Kind of Heartbreak
In the middle of the summer of 2018, Tristyn received the most surprising news she had received up to that point, she was pregnant! Not sure what to make of this news, she immediately called her husband at work. She was hysterical as she told Kamron the news through her tears. “I’m not supposed to be able to get pregnant!” she exclaimed, “what are we going to do?!” Tristyn had been told that the second type of chemo therapy she went through would cause her to be unable to conceive a child on her own. Finding out she was pregnant was a complete shock.
After getting over the initial panic of the situation, Tristyn and Kamron took some time to try to think things through. They were completely unsure of what a pregnancy would be like while Tristyn was going through cancer treatment. They knew that the type of treatment she was going through could potentially harm the baby and that there is no way an unborn child could survive a bone marrow transplant. Even though there was so much fear and uncertainty about what to do, Tristyn and Kamron both said that they were still excited at the opportunity to bring another child into the world and expand their family. They didn’t know how they were going to do it, but they knew they wanted to try.
It wasn’t long before they told their families the news. Everyone was just as shocked as Tristyn as Kamron. Despite the complete shock, everyone was so excited for Tristyn and Kamron. It was a complete miracle that Tristyn was even able to get pregnant again! After discussing things with the family, it was apparent that they still had a lot more questions than answers. They knew that the real person they needed to talk to was their oncologist. They needed to figure out how the heck this was going to work!
At the next appointment with their oncologist, they told her the news. Her jaw dropped and all she could say was, “what?!” All Tristyn and Kamron could do was laugh as their doctor stood their in disbelief. The oncologist took a moment to gather her thoughts and then sat down and got really serious. “What are you wanting to do with this baby?” she asked. They explained to her that they thought this was a miracle, and that they would love to do everything they could to bring this baby into the world. The doctor took several more moments of silence to think. She then went on to explain what she was thinking. She told Tristyn and Kamron that in order to save the baby, they would have to completely delay Tristyn’s treatment throughout the pregnancy. Any form of cancer treatment could do major harm to an unborn child. She also pointed out that during those nine months, Tristyn’s cancer would continue to spread. Kamron then asked, “Realistically, do you think that Tristyn could survive long enough to deliver the baby and then continue treatment afterward?” The doctor’s response was, “I don’t know, but I don’t think it is worth the risk.” Their doctor then began to get emotional and said, “I am so sorry to have to tell you this. No one should have to make these types of decisions at your age.”
The doctor left the room to give Tristyn and Kamron a chance to process what she had just said. Tristyn and Kamron just held each other and cried. They did not know what to think. They could not understand why God would allow them to get pregnant, if they could not keep the baby. They didn’t know what to do. The doctor came back in the room after a few minutes and sat down right next to Tristyn. She put her arm around Tristyn and tried to comfort her. The doctor reminded Tristyn that she already had one little girl who needed her mommy. She explained that she didn’t think it was worth risking Tristyn’s life, and potentially the life of the unborn child, to try to see the pregnancy through. She recommended that Tristyn and Kamron terminate the pregnancy.
Tristyn and Kamron left that hospital with the most difficult decision of their lives staring them right in the face. The excitement of expanding their family was replaced with fear and heartbreak. On the one hand, they could risk it all and hope that Tristyn could live long enough to deliver the baby and be able to get back on track with more treatment afterwards. On the other hand, they could terminate the pregnancy to give Tristyn the best chance of being around to raise Scarlett and continue on with her life.
The next few weeks were filled with much prayer, fasting, and visits with other experts and spiritual leaders. They met with Tristyn’s radiation oncologist. He too thought that the risks were too great and recommended that they terminate the pregnancy.
They then met with a high risk pregnancy doctor. He gave Tristyn an ultrasound. Hearing the heartbeat of your unborn child is supposed to fill you with hope and excitement, but Tristyn and Kamron were filled with fear and heartache. The doctor told Tristyn that he had a past patient who was in a very similar situation. That family decided to try to keep the baby. In that situation, the mom died shortly after giving birth, leaving the father and two kids behind. He explained that he was not pro-abortion in any way, but that in this situation he thought terminating the pregnancy was the only option to avoid a potential tragedy.
They then met with a spiritual leader. Abortion is against their beliefs so they wanted to see what a leader in their church would have to say about it. He explained to Tristyn and Kamron that in these types of situations, the Lord understands. He explained that some situations may justify an abortion, including when the mother’s life is in jeopardy.
None of the answers that Tristyn and Kamron received were what they wanted to hear. They were hoping for some other option, some other way that they could save their child who they already felt a great love for. They decided to go to the temple, a sacred building of great spiritual significance in their religion, to pray about what to do. As they prayed and pondered, it was difficult to feel anything besides the heartbreak from all the feedback they had received. All they could think about was that everyone who they could seek advice from had given them the same opinion, to terminate the pregnancy and focus on saving Tristyn’s life. Through pools of tears, and with heavy hearts, they decided that they needed to say goodbye to this child for now, so that they could save Tristyn’s life today.
On July 20, 2018, Tristyn had the surgical procedure to terminate the pregnancy. A pain filled her and her husband’s souls that they had never felt before and hopefully would never feel again. This was the hardest thing either of them had ever been through. Though they never met that child, they felt a real connection to her and a love for her as real as if she had been born. Tristyn and Kamron believe that families are eternal. They know one day they will be reunited with their child again.
Strength and Courage
This is the point in Tristyn’s story where her strength and courage shined brightest. She was heart broken by the loss of her unborn child, but she understood that there was nothing she could do about that now. All she could do was press forward and face tomorrow’s challenges with as much bravery as she could muster.
Tristyn had now been through three types of chemo therapy and one type of immuno therapy with no real success. They were running out of options. Tristyn’s team of doctors decided they just needed to get her into transplant and hope for the best. The plan was for Tristyn to undergo three weeks of targeted radiation on the area where most of the cancer was contained and then be admitted to the hospital for transplant.
This is a picture of Tristyn on day one of radiation. Some how, some way, she is still smiling! She is a testament to everyone that you can still find happiness in hardship.
On September 17, 2018, Tristyn was admitted to the hospital for her bone marrow transplant. A bone marrow transplant is one of the most daunting medical treatments that a human being can go through. The week prior to transplant, the patient undergoes the most intense forms of treatment that the body can handle. This treatment is intended to wipe out everything in the body, including the cancer cells and the patient’s stem cells (bone marrow). The patient is basically left on death’s door after these treatments and is then “rescued” by the stem cell transplant. They then have to remain in the hospital for a significant period of time while they recover. Once they leave the hospital, their new immune system is still in a very fragile state. They have to go on a special diet and be under 24 hour care for 100 days. During these 100 days post transplant they also have to be very careful about going out in public. If they catch any type of illness, it could become deadly.
The other scary thing about a bone marrow transplant is something called graft vs. host disease (GVH). This is where the new immune system actually turns on the host and begins attacking the body. This can lead to all kinds of side affects including major rashes, open sores, organs shutting down, and even death. Needless to say, a bone marrow transplant is extremely scary. There are a lot of risks involved and it is a type of treatment that you don’t want to go through unless you have no other options.
Week 1: Rolling With the Punches
Tristyn’s first week in the hospital consisted of several sessions of full body radiation, followed by two rounds of extremely toxic chemo therapy. Tristyn was very fatigued and a little nauseous at the end of week one, but she knew the worst was yet to come. The doctors warned her that the worst side affects of these treatments are a little delayed. She was also missing her daughter a lot, as you might expect. Being separated from her little girl for long periods of time was one of the hardest parts of the whole transplant for Tristyn. Thankfully, Tristyn and Kamron have amazing parents who helped tend Lettie and brought her in for visits almost daily.
Over all, the first week was more taxing on Tristyn mentally than physically. Being stuck in a hospital room and undergoing constant treatment for a whole week is enough to drive anyone crazy. It was a constant battle for Tristyn to stay positive and not let depression take over. Tristyn had never given up before and she wasn’t about to now. She fought to remain optimistic as she knew she still had a long road ahead.
Week 2: Rebirth
You may have come to the assumption by now that Tristyn is the hero of this story, and she is! But there is another hero in this story that cannot be forgotten. Tristyn’s youngest sister, Victoria, is the person who saved Tristyn’s life and made her happy ending possible. At just the age of 12 years old, Tori found out that she was a full match with Tristyn and the most eligible person to be Tristyn’s stem cell donor. When her parents told her that she was the full match and asked if we was willing to do it, she did not hesitate to accept. You would think that a 12 year old would be scared of what she might go though, but Tori was just excited and grateful to be able to save her sister’s life.
About a week before the transplant, Tori had to take several shots to get her stem cells to produce more rapidly. She is terrified of needles but she was so brave through the entire process. She then had to go to the hospital and have a line surgically placed in her neck to be able to extract the stem cells from her blood stream. This process was not easy for Tori, but her sister meant more to her than the sacrifice. Tori will never truly know how much this selfless act of love meant to Tristyn and her family.
On September 26, 2018, Tristyn was “reborn.” This is the day when she received her sister’s life saving stem cells. Both Tristyn’s and Kamron’s families came to the hospital for this special occasion. They had a little party and even got Tristyn a birthday cake. Tears were shed and hugs were shared as everyone watched the life saving stem cells flow into Tristyn’s body. Everyone had hope and believed that this would be the moment when Tristyn’s life started to turn around. Everyone in that room had been on this journey with Tristyn from day one. They had all sacrificed so much on her behalf and had prayed constantly for almost two years that their loved one would be cured. On this day, everyone’s prayers were joined together as they all hoped for a miracle.
From this point on, Tristyn was literally a new person. The reason they call it the “rebirth” is because the whole transplant process literally reset Tristyn’s body. They killed her old immune system and put in a new one. Tristyn was like a new born baby. She would have to get all of her immunizations again and have to be extremely careful about getting sick. The road to full recovery was a long one, but if it meant she would be cured of cancer, it would absolutely be worth it.
Week 3: Hell Week
Week 3 was Tristyn’s absolute worst week in the hospital. This is when all of the side affects from the full body radiation and the chemo really caught up with her. Tristyn’s husband, Kamron, said it was like watching his wife go through torture. She felt extreme pain throughout her entire body and even in her bones, she was constantly nauseous, and she had open sores throughout her entire GI tract.
At one point, the sores in Tristyn’s stomach got so bad that she started throwing up blood. Once she started throwing up blood, she couldn’t stop. She threw up a significant amount of blood three times in 30 minutes and her nurses said that if she threw up blood one more time, they were going to have to move her to the ICU. Kamron said that this was the scariest night of his life. All he could do was watch in terror as he feared that Tristyn might not make it through the night. To Kamron’s great relief, and as an answer to his prayers, the nurses were able to get some nausea medication in Tristyn’s body through her line and she stopped throwing up blood. They gave Tristyn a blood transfusion and she remained stable throughout the rest of the night.
Tristyn remained in a coma like state for about a week after the throwing up blood incident. She was on constant high doses of pain medication along with a plethora of other medication and nutrients that were being fed to her through her line. Kamron remembers he was scared to ever leave the hospital for fear that something bad might happen again. He said the the hardest thing he has ever experienced was watching the love of his life go through such pain and not being able to do anything about it.
Week 4: Light at the End of the Tunnel
The beginning of week 4 was still pretty rough, but Tristyn seemed to be getting a little better each day. She lost her hair and she was beat, but she was no where near quitting. Tristyn still had everything to fight for.
By the end of week four, Tristyn felt good enough to sit up and to have some visitors. This is when the mental aspect of being in the hospital for so long really started to weigh on her. She thought she felt good enough to lay in her own bed at home and couldn’t understand why the doctor’s wouldn’t let her go. She was going stir crazy and just wanted to get out of that cell of a hospital room. There were many moments when she had to just break down and cry to let some of those emotions out.
Tristyn’s greatest blessings during this time were visits from the people she loved. There are so many people who reached out in love and support to be there for Tristyn. This support is really what gave Tristyn the strength to push through to the end of her stay in the hospital.
Week 5: Going Home
Five weeks in the hospital is a really long time! There probably aren’t words to describe how anxious Tristyn was to get the heck out of there! The last week was mostly just a matter of Tristyn reaching certain mile stones before she would be allowed to go home. They wanted her to be able to eat on her own, have enough strength to walk around, and make sure that all her blood counts were at an acceptable level.
On October 23, 2018, Tristyn finally met all of the doctor’s requirements and was allowed to leave the hospital.
Life as it Should Be
Tristyn finally being able to be home with her family really was the best medicine for her. She could actually rest and recover in the comfort of her own bed. All of the people she loved were close by to give love and support as needed. She was no longer chained down by plastic chords coming our of her body. She could shower in her own shower and use the bathroom with out having to show a nurse what came out! Just being home was absolute paradise compared to what she had gone through. The best part, however, was being able to be with that little girl who had been her beacon of light from day one.
Tristyn would not receive another scan until 100 days post transplant. Like with all the treatments before, they wanted to give the transplant enough time to take full affect before doing a scan to see if there was still cancer. Rather than focus on thinking about what was to come, Tristyn and Kamron did their best during this time to just live in the present. They had learned along the way that it does no good to stress about things you can’t control. All they could control during this time was enjoying life and making the most out of everyday. Though Tristyn was still far from 100%, her health and strength seemed to be improving everyday. They were happy just to be moving forward, spending time together, and holding on to hope of a better tomorrow.
A Better Tomorrow
On February 1st, 2019, Tristyn went to the hospital for her post transplant pet scan.
On February 11th, 2019, this happened:
Tristyn continues to be a shining example of what it means to find joy in the journey. She is positive and outgoing and makes the most of her life despite everything she has been through. The road to full recovery from the transplant is still ongoing. Only God knows what the future may hold for Tristyn and her family. One thing is for sure, this woman will continue to live and love like she always has. Every single day that we get to live and breath and be with our families is a blessing from God.
Not many people have to endure what Tristyn has endured. We hope that her story can bring hope and comfort to anyone who needs it. Whether you are in a situation like Tristyn, or just trying to make it through the difficulties of daily life, remember that your attitude can make the difference and bring light into your life during the hard times. Our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone currently battling cancer and to all the families who have lost their loved ones to this terrible disease.
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Don’t give up hope! Keep fighting! Find joy in the journey!