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Zachary’s Story

Zachary received the gift of a new heart on February 19, 2011.  His journey for the last 10+ years has been challenging.  He is an incredible, inspirational young man.

February 2001: 
Diagnosed with Leukemia (ALL)

May 2007: 
Diagnosed with treatment related Leukemia (AML)

August 2007: 
Bone Marrow Transplant

February 2011: 
Heart Transplant

Lord, We pray that no more will be added to this list. We give thanks for hope, faith, and love.  Amen.

Latest Journal Update

From Tim, the brother!

Cancer creeps its way into my memories because cancer has permeated nearly my whole life. Over the past fifteen years I wholeheartedly supported and loved my brother Zachary through his valiant journey with cancer to his peaceful end on August 26, 2015. Throughout Zachary's life, he battled two types of cancer: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). He also encountered the following complications: three cardiac arrests and heart failure, a bone marrow transplant for AML, a heart transplant due to chemotherapy causing cognitive and organ degradation, End-Stage Renal Disease, and much more. As a young child I remember supporting my brother to reach remission for ALL and AML by building Legos, playing games, and providing bliss through love and laughter. Notably, during one of Zach’s radiation treatments, I remember offering support by holding his hand when he passed out from radiation’s draining effects. Then he woke up, saw me, and smiled. However, after I finished middle school, a nightmare began as a sucker punch of cancer’s side effects hit Zach which ruined my summer before high school.

On June 12, 2012, cancer’s complications started to ravage my brother’s health. From this day until July fifteenth, while in a coma, Zachary silently battled the following problems: influenza-B, brainstem edema, seizures, pancreatitis, and pleural effusion. The nerve-racking time spent depressingly wondering whether Zach would live or not caused me deep pain. Miraculously, Zach bounced back and escaped the hospital in early August, but in November 2013, pneumonia hit Zachary. Accordingly, Zach began to hibernate while his lungs and heart collected fluid, and his kidneys almost reached complete failure. To save Zach’s kidneys, he received dialysis and his blood counts improved. Nevertheless, he began to have trouble distinguishing family members and communicating properly, so I painfully watched Zach flirt with the brink of death again. From January 2014 to March 2014, hospice care supported our family by treating Zach with dialysis at their facility, but in March my parents implemented dialysis at home. Effectively, Zach perked up mentally and he was taken off hospice care. After March of 2014, Zach’s health remained stable for over a year, so I prized every second with him including a trip to Legoland-a dream together as brothers.

Although the school year of 2014-2015 proved uneventful, the summer of 2015 hit Zach and my family harder than ever before. On Tuesday July 22, 2015, I came home and was greeted by my father at the door explaining Zach spiked a high fever and almost went into cardiac arrest. I experienced the nightmare of  Zach scared for his life as he cried and repeatedly said “I don’t want to die.” For the next two weeks Zach was hospitalized because he went into septic shock. During this time his mental condition deteriorated into a confused, dark state as he saw fake dangers and could not process basic aspects of life like facial recognition. Eventually, on August first a mentally numb and physically incapable Zach came home to receive hospice care. I went into shock and despair since I saw my brother, but he really wasn’t there. Surprisingly, through August, Zach sometimes showed mental stability, so he and I shared brotherly affection by once again building Legos together and playing board games. However, in the end, the cumulative toll of Zach's health problems overwhelmed him. On August 26, 2015, I watched Zachary taking in labored breaths, and finally, Zach's last breath slowly seeped out. From Zach’s peaceful passing, I have fully learned that when life gives me lemons, I can push through to make sweet lemonade out of life by loving and making the most of every moment.

Zach’s battle with cancer and passing has made me humbly realize life can change in an instant, so I try and savor every passing second.
14 people hearted this



Jennifer Peterson
By The Peterson Family
Tim, thank you for posting this. You went through so much along with Zach and your parents. I know now I have seen the side effects of my own children through what they went through when Hollyn was battling cancer three times. My older children who were 9 and 12 when she was diagnosed suffered the most. My oldest was in high school when Hollyn went through her transplant and many times Hollyn would plead with her to stay by her side. So Jorie would put down her books, friends and practices to spend time with her sick little sister. It was hard to witness, because no one truly understands what a sibling goes through accept other siblings. As adults we don't even understand, yet as children you were faced with the same challenges and more I think. You had to balance school, activities and friends and times you were still siblings and would argue I am sure, as children do. Feelings of ill would come and go, and yet the love you carry for your sick sibling is so strong no one could surpass it. My heart goes out to you Tim. Many times as Zach faced his health issues Hollyn and I would pray for him but then we would pray for you. We wlll continue that vigilance, because we care about you and your family. Stay strong Tim and live life as fully as you can, for yourself and for Zach. He is smiling every time you do well on a test, or beat your dad in a game or snuggle with your mom to watch a movie. You are the glue that holds your family together and we pray your glue is stronger than any Gorilla glue ever created. Thank you again for sharing this, we will never ever forget Zach, our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Sincerely, Jennifer and Hollyn Peterson
1 person hearted this
Charlotte Rebbe
Thank you for sharing your love and life as a brother of Zach. I respected and loved you both. Our sharing after a passing of a loved one helps us deal with the days ahead. My prayers for Zach, you Tim, and your parents.
Much love,
Sr Charlotte
Lexi Parr
By Lexi Parr
You have been an amazing brother Tim, so well written. Zach was very lucky to have you. I've been thinking about you and your family a lot lately. You are such an amazing person!
Terie Holmquist
By Terie & Casey from Colorado
Zach will always have your back, Tim. Just like you had his. What amazing brothers we can all learn life lessons from.
Liz Fitzgerald
By Liz, Greg, Liam and Gavin Fitzgerald
Tim, Thank You for sharing such a heartfelt and soulful message. Zachary could not have asked for a better brother. Though you sacrificed so much of your childhood to help your family deal with the devistation that cancer brought it sounds like you gained as much as you gave. You are an Amazing young man and we wish only good things for you and your future. Big Hugs and Prayers are always yours.
Denise Rudersdorf
By Denise Rudersdorf
Tim, you have been such an amazing strength and joy in Zachary's life. I prayed for you during this difficult time too, knowing that you would need God's help to keep your high spirit. I am humbled knowing you and your entire family. The lessons you have learned have made you an even more impressive young man. Thank you for sharing your journey.
Allison Schultz
By Allison Schultz
May you claim strength from your experience.
Lynn Duncan
By Lynn Duncan, Fountain Valley CA
Thank you, Tim

Michele Feivor
Thank you for sharing your journey Tim❤️ This has been life changing for you too since it effected your childhood as well. Prayers for peace and comfort always. I'm sure you will be inspirational to many as you have been with us today by sharing your experience. Your were both a gift to one another......thats something else you can share with others - the importance of family, and even more importantly, siblings. Lots of love and HUGE HUGS! Michele and family