Sierra Jenkins / Wednesday, March 15 @ 12:33 p.m. / LoCO Video Reports
(VIDEO) Five-Year-Old Eureka Boy Battling a Rare Form of Brain Cancer Gets A Surprise Visit from Spider-Man While Awaiting Pivotal Next Scans
Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation; those are words no child should have to even be familiar with, but it’s a reality Tyler Holt has already endured in just five years of life.
When Tyler was seven months old doctors discovered he had an atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor, or ATRT, a very rare case in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the brain. The massive tumor was removed, but the cancer spread to Tyler’s spine. He underwent months of chemotherapy, spent a year and a half in the hospital, and went into remission in late 2014. The treatment however, took a huge toll on the little boy, leaving him speechless and immobile. His father Bryan says it’s a miracle he’s alive.
“I’ve almost lost him on chemo a number of times,” he added. “For where we’re at now, I’m blessed for every day that God gives me with this kid. We continue to work and push and thrive.”
Certain factors affect prognosis but the cancer was not expected to return. Tyler had gone through therapy and was in school at Yurok Head Start in Eureka, excelling and living the life of a normal kid.
However, six months ago Tyler’s health took a turn for the worst and the Holt’s got a devastating blow, the cancer had creeped its way back into Tyler’s susceptible little body. Since then, it’s been an uphill battle. The family has constantly been back-and-forth to Oakland Children’s Hospital, and this time Tyler took on surgery, chemo, a stem cell transplant and radiation.
To date, Tyler has undergone brain surgery four times, plus he’s had four more surgeries on his spine. But he remains resilient and the family has never given up hope.
Holt was on a mission to lift his son’s spirits and give him the courage to continue to cope with cancer. So he contacted Heart of a Hero, a non-profit organization founded by Ricky Mena. The man who dresses as Spider-Man and visits sick children across the world. Mena believes the power of a child’s imagination is unparalleled, allowing them to hold on to their innocence while being forced into the complex world of medical care.
“We lose track of the fact that we used to be kids too and we wanted to be astronauts and superheros and it’s something magical, he says. “And kids in the hospital, they have to hold on to that. So I like to bring them pieces of their childhood back because it’s basically being stripped away.”
Holt wanted the big Spider-Man experience to all take place before Tyler went back to Oakland for his next scans. Scans that would reveal if this recent cancer treatment was successful.
In this LoCO Video Report we spend the day with Tyler and his family, and get to be part of the surprise visit from Spider-Man.