Go Tyler! Beat Batten! – A Sister’s Story

by JAMIE KIM

My brother, Tyler, has always been the most energetic happy little boy I have ever been around.  He never runs out of things to do or things to say.

A few years ago, he started to have seizures and began to lose his vision.  Around a year ago, our family found out that Tyler has juvenile Batten disease. Batten disease is a rare and awful neurodegenerative disease that is terminal. There is currently no treatment or cure but there are researchers who have discovered a treatment that slows the progression of the disease and others are working on a possible cure for the disease.

When I first found out he had this disease, I was a little in disbelief.  I have seen many commercials of people diagnosed with terrible diseases but it never occured to me that it could happen to Tyler.  He seemed like such a happy and healthy boy that it was hard to understand that such a devastating disease was hurting him.

In the first few months of his diagnosis, I did not want to talk about it with anyone outside our family.  I did not know how to tell people what he was going through because it is not a common disease and I knew no one would really understand what was happening.  Our family began first with telling close friends and extended family. More recently, we joined other affected families and set up a fund at Beyond Batten Disease Foundation called Tyler’s Mission.  All donations to Tyler’s Mission go to the research for a treatment and cure for juvenile Batten disease. Seeing all the people who have donated to this cause has showed me how many people care and support our family and it really means so much to us.  It did not cross my mind that so many people who do not know us were also donating and leaving comments of support. Looking at these comments made me realize that it is possible to raise the 6 million dollars needed by next year to start a clinical trial for the treatment for kids living with Batten Disease. So far, Tyler’s Mission has raised over $45,0000! 

This summer, I want to make a difference.  I want to help raise money and awareness of Batten Disease.  It is urgent to raise the funds as quickly as possible because time is not on our side. With donations and support, there is hope for a treatment and ultimately a cure.

Every day I am reminded there is hope for my little brother and others with Batten Disease.  I love Tyler more than words can explain and he brings me happiness everyday from his little kisses to his big squeeze hugs to his goofy bad jokes.  Although he has hard days and struggles sometimes, he always hold his head up high and helps me see how much there is to appreciate in our lives.

Please help us raise funds and defeat Batten Disease by donating to Tyler’s Mission at beyondbatten.org/tylers-mission or visit the Understanding Batten page to learn more about Batten disease. To stay updated with his journey, follow his Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @tylersmission.

GO TYLER! BEAT BATTEN!

Pieced Together – A Mother’s Story

by AN ANONYMOUS BATTEN MOTHER

I grew up in a family of story tellers. Every get together involved reminiscing and sharing the same old stories. Most happened before my time, yet I’ve heard them so much it’s as if I was actually there.

Many stories involve my Dad, his two brothers and his sister.   Many include their childhood shenanigans. They would be playing in the house and something would get broken. They would do chores and something would get broken. They would move furniture to turn the living room into a football field and something would get broken. The result would be my grandmother grabbing the glue and putting it back together.

I know these broken things on her shelves. They weren’t matching sets or family heirlooms. They weren’t pieces that were priceless or irreplaceable. But they were special to her. So as things broke, she could have easily thrown them out, but she chose to piece them back together. Displaying them once again in hopes that no one would see the damage that had been done to them.

I often think about these broken knick- knacks and feel we have a lot in common. All it took was one visit to the doctor’s office to knock me down and shatter me to pieces. As the doctor revealed our diagnosis, I wasn’t even sure what he was saying. But when he said it will affect other parts of his body and his longevity, I literally fell to the ground. I was completely broken. Not the broken that leaves you in two pieces. But the broken that shatters you. Picture a glass dropped from the highest cabinet in the kitchen and exploding into tiny slivers everywhere. I was that kind of broken. How would I ever get up off the floor?

Then I thought of the words written by my sweet little boy just 4 days earlier on his Star of the Week poster…I am a star because “I never give up.” That was the glue that started putting me back together.

I walked out praying, you know the kind of prayer that sounds like a jumbled ramble of words that even if God was yelling from the top of his lungs to guide me, I wouldn’t have even heard him. It was that kind of prayer. But, He glued me together enough to put one foot in front of the other to walk out of that doctor’s office.

We came home and I looked at our daughter. How is this ever going to be ok I thought and the glue started letting loose. She hugged me and asked if we could cuddle on the couch together. She held me tight. Gluing those pieces right back together.

That night on one of the first of many sleepless, tearful nights I said to my husband, “What are we going to do?” He said we are going to get up and go to work and school, just like we do every other day. Our children deserve us to support each other and not fall apart. His love for our family was the glue that I needed once again.

The days to follow, 902 to be exact, I have fallen apart and been glued back together more than I can count. If someone looked closely, they would see that I am not who I once was. Just like the knick -knacks on my grandma’s shelves, I am together, but a little different than I used to be. But as pieces break off, God finds a way to glue me back together. He provides glue from my family, from the courage of Craig and Charlotte, from the kindness of Mary Beth, from the encouragement of Danielle, from the strength of Wayne and Missy, from the knowledge of the scientific researchers and from the promise that He has a plan the far outweighs my understanding.

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