Back in November 2010, I was walking through my apartment and hit my knee really hard on the coffee table. Nothing seemed to be wrong with my knee until about a month later. I started feeling some pain and eventually developed a limp. In early January I went to an orthopedic doctor to get it checked out. He said all my ligaments, and such were normal. He also did an X-ray, which ruled out any broken bones, fractures, or chips. Since everything seemed to be normal, he diagnosed the pain as a bone bruise. He said it would be better in about 8 weeks, depending on how deep the bruise was. So, I patiently waited for this bruise to heal. I started wearing a knee brace to give me some extra stability. The pain remained constant through January and February. I would just take some Ibuprofen or Aleve to get through the day. All along I had this swelling above and to the right of my kneecap, but it never worried me. I thought I had pulled some muscles or something.
I went to Florida for Spring Break, and everything seemed about the same then. The morning school started back up after break, I woke up and couldn’t move my knee at all. It was so stiff, and the pain was so severe. I was able to get up and limber up a little, at least enough to go to school. By the time my second class was over at around lunchtime, I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I called my dad from my truck in the parking lot, and he told me to go to an emergency clinic. So, I went to Stillwater Urgent Care and saw a P.A. She decided to get me an MRI later that day and prescribed me a steroid pack for the pain. The next day, I decided not to go to the only class I had, because I wanted to go straight back to the doctor as soon as she got my MRI results back.
I got to the doctor, and that’s when the news came. She told me that she and the radiologist found a tumor in my femur. She told me that I have a cancer called Osteosarcoma, which is most common in adolescent males. After that, everything just started moving so fast. She set me up with an orthopedic oncologist in OKC and prescribed some strong pain killers. I called my dad, because he was the only one in the state at the time. My mom and sister were in Colorado. The doctor explained my diagnosis to him. I went home and waited for him to get there. I was never so relieved to see him walk in my door. Mom and my sister were back in Oklahoma later that evening, by which time Dad and I had packed up some of my stuff and headed home.
Team TyMan grew from Tyler Merriman’s battle with osteosarcoma cancer. Tyler’s family understands all too well the burden cancer treatment brings, especially to rural families. The Merriman’s spent four years navigating treatment options, coordinating between rural and urban cancer care facilities. Their journey represents over 250 nights away from home and thousands of miles traveled. The support, dedication and professionalism exhibited by Mercy Cancer Care Center in Ada, Oklahoma, and the Chickasaw Nation, toward the Merriman family, remains a source of inspiration. Each day, the Merriman’s continue this legacy of care and service, offering others hope and dignity.