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Teen's journey from cancer patient to championship

POSTED: April 13, 2017 12:56 p.m.
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Taylor will use his Beads of Hope during his speech for Relay for Life. Each bead represents a part of his journey with cancer.

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Six years ago, the Marmet family made Richmond Hill their home. Before making the transition to Bryan County the Marmet family, Mat and Jen along with their children; Taylor, Cameron and Jordyn lived in New Jersey. Life in Jersey was much different than it is now. They couldn’t be more grateful for where they’ve come from, what they’ve come through and where the road leads. From the friendly culture, to the slower pace, they say Richmond Hill reflects what a community should be. "The schools are amazing, kids are respectful and friendly, it is beautiful and less expensive than Jersey," said mom, Jen Marmet. It was an unlikely incident that led the Marmet’s through an unexpected encounter with cancer. Taylor, who was diagnosed at 2 years old and is now 16, is cancer free. He will now serve as the American Cancer Society Bryan County Champion as he shares his story and advocates for Relay for Life.

On March 31, 2001, the Marmet’s welcomed Taylor. "He was the happiest baby and very active. He was always running, jumping, climbing, he had a sweet temperament and was easy going," said Jen. As a mother, she never expected what journey they were all about to face. "When I was 2 years old, I slipped and fell on our kitchen floor. Right away my leg started to swell. My parents brought me to our local hospital where they did an X-ray. They said it was a torn muscle and the swelling was blood called a hematoma. The ER doctor told my parents to take me home and wait for my muscle to heal and that my body will reabsorb the blood," said Taylor.

Two months had passed and the swelling didn’t go down. Four months after the fall, mother Jen insisted doctors perform an MRI. The MRI showed the mass had grown and was now pressing on his pelvis and bladder. The doctors performed a biopsy and this marked the beginning of their journey with cancer. Taylor was diagnosed with Stage 3 High Risk Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. Not only was the mass cancerous, but they also learned there were 30 lymph nodes diagnosed as well.

It looked like a daunting journey but despite not knowing what to expect, the Marmet’s relied on their faith to see them through it. "He was not in pain in the beginning, the pain came after the treatment started," said mother Jen. Making the 30-minute drive to New York where he would receive treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center was a new way of life. On June 1, 2003 Taylor received his treatment. He was to endure 4 heavy cycles of adult strength chemo. "The tumor was so aggressive they had to kill it at a fast rate" said mother Jen.

A few months later in September of 2003 they had to remove the mass. Surgery would take 10 hours and doctors performed a new intra–operative radiation on Taylor’s little body. "They radiated right into the open cavity, it the longest day of my life,", Jen said.

"There were lines and wires everywhere, but surprisingly he was up and walking the next day with a baby walker. He is stubborn so we weren’t too surprised but it was a perfectly smooth recovery," she added.

There were many unknowns after surgery, but Taylor would eventually defy those. For the next year, the Marmet’s watched their him endure one round after another. When faced with the reality of what chemo was doing to their son, they had a difficult decision to make. The chemo was draining his immune system and Taylor was on the verge of death. It was shortly after his ninth round and they made the decision to stop treatment.

"He did not get all his chemo and it was the hardest decision of our lives; he was so weak and suffered from blood infections, both his lungs collapsed, one day while in hospital I flipped him over and he was gray, they all pushed me aside and got him breathing again. He was in ICU for the next week and was in grave condition. His body was beaten down and they shared they had kids that had died from treatment. We made the decision to not move forward with the 10th," said Jen.

Eventually they could bring him home and began the road to recovery. Taylor has a team of doctors and although he doesn’t have to go in as often as he once did, they still go back once a year for check-ups.

Relay for Life has been a part of their lives since living in New Jersey. They have always participated but this year is unique and special. Taylor is now an active 16-year-old student and athlete at RHHS. He will not only participate but speak out for the first time.

He has been inspired and is ready to share his own story with hopes it will give others hope and restore their faith that with God all things are possible. As an advocate and Champion for Bryan County, Taylor recognizes that God used that fall to reveal the cancer. Had that incident not happened, they may have not known it was there.

"My tumor was growing up, not out. That fall saved my life! My doctor said that without that fall, they wouldn’t have caught my cancer in time. It would have been too late. Our God is too loving to be unkind, too wise to make a mistake, too powerful to not be able, and too exact to have the wrong timing," said Taylor.

Visit the Relay for Life of Bryan County Facebook page for more information.

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