Tyler Blah documents his leukaemia diagnosis and treatment to help others confronting life-changing illnesses

Young patient shares cancer journey on YouTube

April 2019

Tyler Blah documents his leukaemia diagnosis and treatment to help others confronting life-changing illnesses

Tyler Blah documents his leukaemia diagnosis and treatment to help others confronting life-changing illnesses

Tyler Blah is relying on the actions of a stranger to survive.

“I’m counting on a stranger to help me. To help save my life,” the medical student and champion ballroom dancer says.

Tyler, 24, is studying medicine at Notre Dame University. His life was turned upside down last year when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

But he also viewed his cancer as an opportunity to help others.

He set up his own YouTube channel and scripts, films and edits videos that document his journey as a young patient having aggressive chemotherapy to treat his cancer.

The videos are raw and honest. They’re confronting at times too, yet optimistic.

“I borrowed a camera off a friend and started making video diaries and vlogs of my days to help deal with my new life as a patient with leukaemia,” Tyler said.

“At the same time, I noticed when my friends and family visited they always had questions they wanted to ask. Often very similar ones, but sometimes they were too nervous to ask.

“So, I figured with this hobby I was developing, and the new information I was privileged to know, I could combine them together to maybe help others out there going through it. Or for those who know someone going through it as well,” he said.

His channel now has more than 500 subscribers and has allowed him to connect with people in Australia and overseas who are also facing life-changing situations.

Tyler shared his insights at an event organised by RPA’s Youth team to mark NSW Youth Week, which is a celebration for young people in communities across the state.

Sharing my experiences on YouTube is a way that I can help people. My diagnosis felt unfair but it’s not unique. And it was important to share. It’s empowering. It’s been valuable to have people reach out to me too,” Tyler said.

This year’s Youth Week theme in New South Wales is Coming together to Connect, Share, Speak out and Celebrate.

RPA’s Youth Team provides a service for patients aged 12 to 24 who have a chronic illness, face a long stay in hospital, or have health concerns that require extra support.

Every day there may be up to 45 young people, like Tyler, who are patients at RPA.

Fiona Patterson is an occupational therapist who leads the Youth Team.

“My role is to learn about a patient’s life outside of the hospital. I provide support and advocacy plus information and resources that young people may need about their condition,” Fiona said.

Tyler met Fiona when he was first admitted to RPA for chemotherapy treatment.

“When you get cancer, for you all the world stops. But for everyone else it doesn’t. That’s one of the hardest things. It was really great to have Fiona’s support and help,” Tyler said.

Tests earlier this year revealed Tyler was in the early stages of a cancer relapse and he’s now on the waiting list for a bone marrow transplant.

He’s taken a positive approach to the setback.

“I’m happy I’m getting a transplant because it’s the next definitive stage of treatment and so this is the best chance that I now have to get a cure,” Tyler told his subscribers in his latest YouTube video.

“I’m going to beat this thing once and for all. If you’re eligible, please register to become a bone marrow donor. People like myself, and other people who are waiting to get a [tissue type] match, we are relying on you. Not to improve our lives but to actually have a chance at having a life again.

“So, if you could please make sure that you’re registered and stand up for a stranger. I’m relying on a stranger to do that for me. So, it would be amazing if you could do that for someone as well,” he said.

To view an image gallery from RPA Youth Week click here.

For more information about becoming a bone marrow donor please contact the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry www.abmdr.org.au

For more information about RPA’s Youth Team, please contact fiona.patterson@health.nsw.gov.au

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Page Last Updated: 12 April, 2019