Tyler McElroy is battling Stage 4 Osteosarcoma bone cancer. He is staying at Altercare of Wadsworth until his home can be made handicap accessible. RiverTree Jackson has been helping the family to raise funds and get the work done to bring Tyler home by Christmas.

At first, Tyler McElroy didn’t think anything of his back pain.

The Canton Township resident brushed it off, believing it was probably just his old lumpy bed that needed replacing.

After nearly collapsing while at work, McElroy quickly realized there was a bigger issue causing his pain.

In mid-March, McElroy was working near the fryers in the back of the Cleveland Avenue Dairy Queen when he began to feel lightheaded and his right knee gave out. He grabbed hold of the counter to steady himself.

A few weeks later, McElroy was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

McElroy uses a wheelchair after several surgeries. Since September, he has been living in a Wadsworth facility until his residence can be made wheelchair accessible. StarkFX, a mission group out of RiverTree Jackson, is hoping to raise $30,000 to get McElroy back into his home for the holidays.

“I try to look on the bright side,” the 25-year-old said. “I'm still here, and I'm getting better. I'm working hard to get back on my feet.”

Chad Salle, director of connections and involvement at RiverTree Jackson, heard about McElroy’s situation through a fellow church member.

Salle spoke with McElroy and his aunt, Lisa Gooding, to determine what improvements and additions need to be done in order for McElroy to come home.

Construction will include installing a ramp, a handicap shower and new cabinets in the kitchen. Other cosmetic repairs include adding a new fire pit, doing landscaping and repainting the house.

The construction of the ramp is nearly complete, Salle said. Before beginning inside work, the 1950s home needed to be checked for asbestos. It was recently confirmed asbestos free, he said.

Many of the companies helping with the renovations are donating their time and are only charging for parts needed, he said.

Necessary repairs will be made first to get McElroy home and then additional improvements or cosmetic changes will be made later, Salle said.

“The goal is just to get him home,” he said. “It's just been a waiting game. The hope is within the next couple weeks start doing the demo, and then we'll be able to get it knocked out and get things done fast.”

Before McElroy was diagnosed, his aunt said, he was complaining of pain for nearly six months.

It started with a lump on the back of his right calf that was painless in the beginning, Gooding said.

For Gooding, it’s a tale of caution for other teens and young adults like McElroy. The cancer spread from his leg, up his spine and into his lungs, she said.

“Don’t brush it off like he did,” Gooding said. “Had he have went and gotten it checked, it might not have gotten that far. We might not be in this situation.”

After receiving a diagnosis, McElroy said, he began rapidly losing his ability to walk. A tumor was found in his back, and a part of his spine was broken, McElroy said.

Despite the diagnosis, McElroy is remaining optimistic. His doctors said there is a chance he could walk again, he said. While at the facility, McElroy is undergoing physical therapy and rehabilitation.

“It’s been quite a ride,” he said. “I just try not to think negatively. It makes it even worse. I've had a lot of support.”

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