On first glance, Tyler Crabtree of Fort Hunt is just like any other two-year-old. He has a bubbly personality and loves playing with trains.
But Crabtree is fighting a battle against acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and his mother, Michelle, has taken on the task of raising funds in his name to help others fight similar diseases.
In March, Michelle got a call from Tyler’s daycare, A Child’s Place. His teacher noticed he wasn’t feeling well, and it was more than just the common cold or flu.
“He wasn’t himself,” Michelle said.
That weekend, Michelle brought Tyler to his pediatrician’s office in Belle View to get checked out.
“I figured I’d be going to the pediatrician, getting my prescription for whatever viral thing he had, and we’d be heading home,” she recalled.
Tyler tested negative for strep, and his pediatrician wanted to perform some blood work. Michelle was directed to take Tyler to the pediatric emergency room at Inova Fairfax Hospital for tests. She brought him in immediately.
“They took some blood and took some x-rays and I’d say by probably 1 o’clock that afternoon the oncologist came in to see me,” Michelle recalled. “My heart sank.”
The oncologist told Michelle that tests showed Tyler was anemic, but he needed to find out why. He took a family history from Michelle’s mom, a nurse, and she said there was a family history of childhood leukemia Michelle was unaware of. Michelle’s aunt died of childhood leukemia in the 1940s.
“I was shocked to find out there was childhood leukemia in the family," Michelle said.
After a bone marrow biopsy that Monday, Tyler was diagnosed with ALL and he started chemotherapy right away.
“Their goal was to have his cancer in remission by day 29 — believe it or not cancer was in remission by day 29,” Michelle said.
Tyler's treatment is not over yet. Tyler began phase four of his treatment on Monday. His mother said phase four has been “hell.”
“He had some bad reactions to [Monday’s] chemo and he’s doing OK today,” she said. “He’s getting better. It’s to be expected.”
Despite often feeling ill from chemo, Tyler is a very easygoing patient who gets excited about going to the hospital.
“He knows the routine and the nurses love him,” Michelle said. “He never cries. Most kids are screaming and hollering and he’s got a really high threshold for pain, I guess. He’s quite a special little boy.”
Michelle and her friend, Stephanie, have taken on the task of running half-marathons to raise money to help others fighting serious diseases. Michelle and Stephanie were training for the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon when Tyler was diagnosed in March.
“We were at the Armory for packet pickup and found the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training table," said Michelle. We signed up for a race, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, not realizing we had to raise $3,200 each.”
The pair decided to hold a community yard sale to raise funds for Team Tyler, as they call themselves.
The two are getting closer to their fundraising goals, but have a ways to go. All proceeds for Saturday’s yard sale will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Not only do they want to raise funds for the cause, they hope to raise awareness of leukemia through their yard sale.
“Many people have been touched by leukemia and some kind of blood disorder, and they may or may not even know it,” Michelle said. “It touches people at different ages and different times, and it may be happening to someone you know.”
The yard sale will be held Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at 8221 Stacey Road.