About Team Tyler


Tash & Ty

The University of Missouri is the oldest land-grant university west of the Mississippi.  The school (my alma mater) is proud of its history.   I’m not usually one for big pep rallys and choreographed celebrations, but at Mizzou homecoming is unavoidable.

For the weeks (and months) leading up to homecoming weekend, the campus is a frenzy of activity.  Floats are  constructed, skits rehearsed, songs and dances perfected, hotel rooms reserved, parties planned, community-service projects performed, and blood is donated.

That last one might sound odd, but at Mizzou, one of the largest (and most inescapable)  homecoming traditions is the annual Blood Drive.  It’s the part of homecoming that everyone, from undergrads, graduate students, staff, faculty, administrators, alumni, and the community at-large takes part-take in.  Rumor has it that at some point it was the largest organized blood drive in the world.

Donors schedule a donation time weeks in advance, and still the process takes hours, as hundreds and hundreds of people are herded through lines, forms and finger-pricks. Grab a clipboard and wait; take a number and wait; answer the questions and wait; lay down on the cot and wait; just a little prick; now squeeze the ball gently and wait; you get the picture.  It was a huge production, and one that carried on from sunrise to sunset for the better part of a week leading up to homecoming weekend.

Looking back, the blood drive was one of the few times that I felt truly connected to Mizzou as a community.    For that blood drive, we were more than just a collection of individuals who worked and studied on a common campus, we were a community of people united by a common cause of donating blood to those in need.  And if felt good!

At some point from 2001-2005, amongst the lines and forms and finger-pricks, I put an innocent check in a seemingly innocent box: “Would you consider making a donation of bone marrow, in the unlikely event that you are identified as a match for someone in need?”

Sure, why not?

At the time, I thought nothing of it.  Perhaps I was caught up in the giving-spirit of the drive.  Perhaps I thought that I would never be called on to donate marrow.  Whatever the reason, I checked the box.

That fuzzy memory came flashing back to me in early 2011 when I received a phone call.

“Mr. Wagner, this is so-and-so from the bone marrow donation program.  We are calling because our records indicate that you are a preliminary match for a recipient in need.”

I had almost forgotten about that innocent little check box.

“If you are still interested, we would like you to answer a brief set of questions and would need to collect some blood samples for additional testing to determine if indeed you are a match.”

What are the odds? I thought. No harm in answering a few questions.  And, I’ve never had trouble with needles, so I guess can spare some blood for additional labs…

So I answered the questions, and went to the lab, thinking it was only a matter of time until I received that inevitable phone call saying “Mr. Wagner, thank you for your participation, but you are not a match.”

Fast forward several months, and I received the phone call.  Only, wasn’t what I expected.

“Mr. Wagner, we are calling to inform you that the additional tests have shown you to be a good match, and we would like to schedule you for an extensive physical exam and an appointment for marrow collection.”

Suddenly that innocent little check box didn’t seem so little and innocent.

From there, the process became a bit complicated.  The organization collecting marrow only worked with a few hospitals in southern California, and were unable to see me in San Diego.  I would need to travel to LA, or Vegas, or Phoenix.  Once for an extensive physical exam, and a second time to make the marrow donation.  It was a big decision, a significant commitment, and one that I wrestled with–and lost sleep over.

Ultimately, I decided I wasn’t comfortable proceeding with the donation.  The combination of time and travel and some lingering doubts that I had about the organization collecting the donation  just made me uncomfortable.  I called my liaison and informed her that, regrettably, I was not going to proceed.  I apologized, and agonized, and lost more sleep.  Was it the right decision?  Did I make a mistake?  Did I pass on the opportunity to save someone’s life?

Fast forward two weeks, and I found myself in the ER at UCSD Medical center, seeking treatment for breathing problems which I assumed were being caused by asthma.  As it turns out, my breathing problems were symptoms of a much bigger, more serious issue.  Something called T Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.

And therein lies the irony.

Even if I had decided to go through with the bone-marrow donation, I wouldn’t have been a match.  I would have gone in for the extensive physical; I would have complained of recent back pains and tightness in my chest; and I would have learned about the abnormal mass that now sits in the left side of my chest, pressing on my lung and partially surrounding my heart.

I would have learned, as I have learned in the past several days, that I have a rare, but curable form of cancer.  And I would have learned, as I have experienced this week, through an outpouring of phone calls, and emails, and text messages, and care packages, that I’m not in this alone.

So here we are. T Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.  Scary words, no doubt.  But words, and a diagnosis, that with strength and determination, and the support of my loving, caring, powerful, dedicated, spiritual, and TRULY AMAZING group of friends and family–words that can be beaten into submission.  A disease that we can cure.

It’s not going to be easy.  And, I’m going to need your help.  The last few days have given me time to think.  About the people and things in this life that are truly important to me.  The relationships and shared experiences that make my life worth living.

Our time in this life, inhabiting our mortal physical bodies, is short; and the experiences and emotions that we share help to give our lives meaning.   We all share a similar struggle as humans beings.  Each of us faces adversity, challenges, and obstacles.  But, in that adversity lies opportunity to grow, to learn, and to reaffirm what is truly important to us.

I have a big fight in front of me.  But I have a bigger team behind me, and the love and support that you all have shown to me and my family give us the courage, and determination to take this on without fear.

I love you all beyond words, and I know that together, united by love and divine spirit, we will beat this.  One day we’ll look back at this challenge with pride and think, “that was one crazy ride, but we did it together, and we’re stronger for it.”

Welcome to Team Tyler.  Treatment starts tomorrow.  It’s go time!

26 thoughts on “About Team Tyler

  1. Tyler, i now know the reason why my calls to your office had gone unanswered. here I was trying to invite you to lunch, and come to find out you have more important things on your mind. Someone on the staff did finally call me back to say you were unavailable, about the same time we got the email from Eliot about your medical condition.
    You are in my prayers and i look forward to getting together for lunch upon your return to work. After all, we’re practically work neighbors.
    best wishes, Chris P.

  2. Oh Tyler,
    My heart is so heavy for you!! But you are a fighter. You are strong and you have an amazing family! You are such a doll. We are thinking of you and sending you lots of love and strength to get you through this..If there is anything you need, please let us know.

    Lisa Graham

  3. Tyler, Luv ya buddy. Hang in their. Just read you story. Your a real trooper and a mighty good man. Never give up. (Jim Valvano). I’ll be thinking of you when Nebraska beats South Carolina on January 2nd at the Capital One in Orlando. Kenneth and Matthew Steecker. Loyal Big Red and Tyler Wagner fans.

  4. Tyler,
    Thinking of you every day! If anyone can fight this, it is you. All of us at CHIP are here for you, and can’t wait to have you back in the office with us 🙂

  5. Hello Tyler,

    You don’t know me and I don’t know you. But, I received an e-mail from Janine at the Fieldstone Foundation about you and your recent news. Please know that you are in my thoughts. My sister SURVIVED Stage 4 Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and after reading your story I am confident that you are going to do the same. Be well my friend. It sounds like you are blessed and that you have a tremendous inner circle. That is what it takes to beat the big C word. Stay strong…..Jeff Myers

  6. Hello Tyler,

    This morning at breakfast Matt D’Arrigo told me about your diagnosis, and this afternoon I received Janine Mason’s email with information about your website. Although you and I don’t know each other, I will be sending loving energy and prayers for your recovery because I believe in their power to heal. Whenever you get tired and discouraged, remember how tough and resilient your team’s power is and rely on that energy until you feel stronger!

    Carol Schultz

  7. Hi Tyler!!

    Just wanted to let you know that you will be in my thoughts and prayers! I’ll be cheering you on from NorCal 🙂


  8. Tyler, we have never met. I have been a friend of your dads for about 40 years.As you know you come from really good stock, your mom and dad are the “real deal”. my wife Carol is a 11year breast cancer survivor..prayer, family, friends, faith, and God can work many miracles. Carol and i have put you on our prayer list. It was uplifting to read how positive your attitude and faith are. You have an awesome support team!!! Glad your dad let us know about your challenge this afternoon. We will be praying that you all have a wonderful Christmas together.. Randy and carol johnson ashland ne.

  9. Hi Tyler: You don’t really know us, but you might know of us. We’re your folks” next door neighbors. And we sure know about you. We had a visit with your Dad Wednesday before we kicked him out of town. He gave us, what he described as the Cliff’s Notes verson of your situation and told us of goteamtyler. Your story agrees with what he said and gave us more information. Being an old journalism major, I must say your story was well done. We detect a bunch of positive vibes from those close to you and from goteamtyler and we want to be part of that team. And so, enjoy your Holiday time with your folks. We will be pulling for you and will monitor goteamtyler. Best Wishes, Phip and Judy Stephens.

  10. Dear Tyler,
    I don’t know if you remember me, but your family has always been near and dear to my heart – which is with you all! I know that you are in the best medical hands, but know this isn’t easy. I also know that you will share lots of love and laughter with your family and friends, which is really the best medicine! My thoughts and prayers are with you all at this special time of year, and especially for a cure in 2012 and a lifetime of good health and happiness.
    Love to you all! Gail McNair

  11. Hi Tyler—Even tho’ we have not been in contact with you personally, we have been in touch with you in a more heavenly way with prayers for you every day since we first learned about your diagnosis. We hope that progress continues in the process. Know that we are thinking and praying for you daily. God’s blessings. Say hi to your Mom. Sally Campbell {and Jack too} great family picture!

  12. Tyler,

    Greetings from your Los Angeles area based “GOTEAMTYLER” cheer squad. You probably know us only via pictures and comments from your folks over the years but Nebraska and the Wagners will always hold a special place in our hearts upon being transplants from Wisconsin from 1980-1983.

    You and our daughter, Shannon, were born only months apart so as new mothers and fellow bank colleagues your Mom and I had plenty of things to talk about. As we moved from Lincoln to Phoenix and then eventually the Los Angeles area we kept in touch and enjoyed hearing how everyone blossomed over the years.

    As a family we stand beside you, your Mom, Dad, Leigh and all your friends with thoughts, prayers and get well wishes on a daily basis. Our order for several lime green wrist bands to proudly wear in your support will be requested shortly. Being a fellow road bike enthusiast with a few century rides behind me I know how much joy it must be to be able to train for your Canada bike trip while going through treatment. I hear you are also exploring and experimenting with new food selections which is great! The longer I live in California the more inclined I am to learning and practicing a healthy lifestyle that includes green drinks, raw and Vegan foods. I’m continually surprised at all the different things I can make that even appeal to the rest of the family so hang in there. Leigh has posted and I know will continue to post some fantastic recipes.

    We look forward to keeping up with the team’s blogging and offer any inspiration we can give to keeping your spirits and positive attitude for a full recovery.

    All our love,

    Don, Jan, Shannon & Adam Younger

  13. Hi Tyler,
    I learned of you through Clay’s FB post. Just want you to know I am thinking good thoughts for you, praying for you, rooting for you, whatever we can call it. I hope you keep your spirits up-you seem like a very positive individual. I love that you have your bike available to you and are keeping up with your training. That can make a huge impact for keeping things in perspective, dealing with stress, staying focused, and feeling good. I don’t have experience with any life threatening illnesses, but I have been to hell and back and my training is my medium for riding the wave of life.
    I wish you the warmest aloha am praying that all is perfect in your world.
    Big Fat Hugs,

    • Hello Gina & Tyler ~ I gave our church an uptade on Tyler progress this morning Continued prayers from so many. It’s good to hear that what is happening now, even thoough it sounds very painful, is normal. Hope you both get to move to the Ronald McDonald House very soon ~ Gina prayers that you learning skills transfer into doing properly skills, which I have no doubt that you will do well, with GOD’s help. GOD has been so good to Tyler and everyone around him. You both have been so strong in your faith and give so many others hope & belief in miracles. Tyler may your pain be little & that you will be able to take all of your Rx by mouth very soon. May you soon be able to eat your favorite foods w/o pain ~Peace be with you,Marlayne

  14. Hi Tyler,
    We love you and pray for you each day. You have surrounded yourself with competent, skilled doctors. Your family and friends are loyal and positive. We know you can beat this. We also enjoy Leigh’s journals. How lucky you are to have her, as well as your mom and dad! Continue to fight through it. When Joe and Mallory come, they’ll bring a hug from us!
    Bill and Linda Shreve

  15. Tyler.
    The boys from BayHo Deli are praying for you buddy. Whatever it takes we are here for you Ty. Mark and I are on your side for this fight if you ever need us Tyler. You have a great team behind you in your family and friends and we would like to be apart of it in any way you need us to be.
    Sam and Mark

  16. Boy! Talk about putting us all to shame … crunches, bike rides … makes me feel like a real wimp for skipping Pilates this morning. Tyler – you are awesome and hope this next round of treatment goes like clockwork. The Warm Dorm ladies are all pulling for you! xoxo **Mary**

  17. Tyler,
    I just heard the news today when I had coffee with Ann Kashiwa. She sent along this site to me and I am so grateful to now know where you and that you are fighting this fight with such grace, determination and spirit. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I will be so happy to see you again back at work and I just know you will fight this thing! Stay strong!!!!

  18. Tyler – We have all been thinking and praying about you. I hope your feeling better. I ran in to your dad in the early morning dark walking the dogs sometimne ago and Jim told me about the blog but i didn’t get the go part down just the team tyler part and struggled to find your blog.
    Then I ran in to Holly Jones last weekend and she told me to add Go and here I am. Any way wanted you to know that we are on the team.

    Jack still makes Sam nervous but that’s the nature of a good Jack Russell.

    Good luck with your treatment and we look forawrd to a hug when you return to Lincoln for a visit.

    Always – Lee and Barb

  19. Tyler, I work with Scody Hage at the SD Food Bank, and have a habit of going through his emails for deleting and such… ran across yours… you sound like an amazing man, and a fighter… I will keep you in my prayers, and will also check your website from time to time to find out how you are doing… I have had family members with cancer, and have lost some of them as well… but some of them beat it to! My hopes and prayers are with you… GO TEAM TYLER!!!

  20. Hey Tyler, sorry it has taken me so long to finally write something. My life as well as taken a turn both good and bad. However, I am fighting and staying strong like yourself. I have to admit I was shocked to hear the news, it brought tears to my eyes. I really hope you are doing well and recovering ok. I wanted to visit you badly after I got the news but I just couldn’t get rid of a nasty lower respiratory infection along with fever and bronchitis. It lasted for a couple months and finally I had to quit my job because of the exposure from working at the nursing home. Anyway, whats new with me? finally got a carbon frame, Masi. And raced with SDBC most of the season but was out for 3 months with an IT Band injury. Changed careers from Nursing to Asian body Therapy and Acupuncture program at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Its a Massage Practitioner license going into a Masters of Acupuncture. I love man! Well, I would love to pay you a visit sometime if thats allowed. Your a good man and I knew from the first day I met you at Java after riding that you have a strong heart and you would be a great person to get to know. You will win buddy, I believe in that. Go Tyler!!!! I will ride hard for you and cant wait to see you out on the bike again. Love ya bro! Jack Hight, SDBC road cycling team

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