A little about the young man that inspired us to create this foundation and site.
Our son, Shaun Thomas Tanner was born July 7, 1983. He was a beautiful blonde haired, green eyed boy that became our big boy of 6 feet tall and weighed 260 pounds.
He was like a big teddy bear and he gave the most wonderful, warm bear hugs plus he had a brilliant smile that was contagious to everyone he met. He attended Brethren Christian High School in Huntington Beach, California where he won numerous sports and inspirational awards and also earned the nickname “The Tank”.
He was given this name during his sophomore year by the seniors on the football team. They didn’t have to worry about the opposite team getting to their quarterback because they had “The Tank” playing center. He loved playing football and was their starting center each year from the 10th grade on. He thoroughly loved his life at Brethren and was looking forward to his graduation in June of 2001. He had his whole life ahead of him. His only complaint from about mid May of that year was a nagging lower back ache. But he was excited about his senior year, graduation and all of the ceremonies and celebrations that go with it. Nobody knew what would lie ahead.
He was looking forward to starting college and had decided to turn down a couple of out of state scholarships and attend Orange Coast College where he was to be center for their football team that September.
After numerous doctor visits to a variety of doctors and endless testing, that dream came to a sudden halt on July 3, 2001 when he was diagnosed with a rare cancer called “Desmo Plastic Small Cell round tumors”. A disease that, at that time, had only attacked approximately 1000 victims.
That is when we met Dr. Chen and Dr. Leonard Sender at CHOC. They had to start treatment and admit him in a hurry because on the day they met Shaun was 17 and in just 4 short days he would be 18 and to old to be admitted to their facility. We admitted him on July 5th and he spent his 18th birthday getting his first dose of chemotherapy. It was not what we had anticipated for his birthday but suddenly our lives were not the way we had anticipated them at all.
Shaun received the most loving and compassionate care at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and he kept his doctors and nurses on their toes.
He had the nurses wrapped around his little finger and there was not much that he needed or wanted when he was in for his monthly treatments. They spoiled him rotten and he loved every minute of it.
Shaun was a man that knew he was seriously ill but still had that brilliant smile on his face and became friends with all the other children on the Oncology floor. He loved spending time with them and visited them when he was in the hospital or even when he was not.
He had a very special partnership with one child that was a lot younger. His name was Grant and the two of them bonded in about two seconds and spent all their time together. They would play darts, watch movies or just walk around the hospital, each with their IV pole in hand.
They were the best of friends. Little did we know, at that time, that our boys would become our angels above spending eternity with one another. There was also a young woman named Courtney undergoing treatment at the same time. They were on the same protocol and were always in for treatment, fevers or blood transfusions at the same time. We are happy to say that this young lady is now cancer free for approx. 4 years and is now married and able to proceed with her wonderful life.
Shaun fought his battle to the fullest and in September of 2002 we lost him to his painful disease. But the disease never took his love for life or his dignity, and for that we are eternally grateful.
A wise mother shared with us during Shaun’s treatment that you never look down that road called “The Future”. You live each day to the fullest and cherish each moment of it. Please remember that as you go on with your lives and your futures.