Tyler's Treehouse

A little boy’s legacy may help save the lives of kids with a rare brain tumor.

By Rachel Schwartzberg

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of Tyler Scott, a small boy who left a giant legacy. Through a foundation his family created, Tyler has touched the lives of children he would never have had the chance to meet.

In 2006, 5-year-old Tyler began having problems with his hand. Soon his family learned he had an extremely rare and aggressive brain tumor known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). Doctors suggested that Howard and Dana Scott take their son to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“From the moment we arrived at St. Jude, we felt we were in good hands,” Dana says. “The entire staff was wonderful. We felt they were truly invested in our child—above and beyond what we might have expected.”

Unfortunately, St. Jude doctors had to deliver terrible news: “There was really nothing they could do for him,” Howard says. “They worked hard on getting him home, so his brothers could say goodbye.”

Because of its location, DIPG is virtually impossible to remove or biopsy—and therefore little was known about it. After Tyler’s death, his parents allowed St. Jude researchers to use tissue from his tumor as part of a study to learn more about the disease.

The Tyler’s Treehouse Foundation—named for the tree house that friends constructed to fulfill Tyler’s last wish— funds further research into DIPG.

The Scott family and their friends host Tyler’s Treehouse fundraisers, such as a 5K run and pool party, and a golf tournament and auction.

“The foundation plans to provide a grant to St. Jude every year until they find a cure,” Howard says.

The Scotts and their sons, Chase, Bryce and Aidan, are gratified to know that Tyler’s Treehouse is helping “accelerate timelines,” as Howard puts it.

St. Jude is now growing tumor samples in the lab and hitting them with different drugs to see what works,” Howard says. “Researchers at St. Jude have also discovered a common mutation found in the DIPG tumors from most children with the disease. The scientists are looking for more targeted treatments to offer hope to these children and families. We’re proud to be part of that.”

From Promise, Spring 2016

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