Country music stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood broadcast their second song request show on Facebook recently. During the virtual concert, the pair gave a shoutout to 3½-year-old Tyson Waid of Rome and dedicated a song to him.
“He smiled when he saw Garth on the video,” Tyson’s mom, Maggie Williams Waid said via Facebook Messenger. “I don’t know if he understood that Garth was talking about him, but he recognizes him in every video we watch.”
The family was in Pigeon Forge at the time, but sent a message to Brooks the night before the online concert.
Why? Because Tyson loves the song “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” and because he has an inoperable brain tumor.
Tyson was diagnosed last year with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG. DIPG is a type of tumor that starts in the brain stem, which controls breathing, heart rate, and the nerves and muscles that help us to see, hear, walk, talk and eat. These tumors are called gliomas because they grow from glial cells, a type of supportive cell in the brain.
“Since then, Tyson has had 6 sedated MRI’s, 42 days of radiation, a brain biopsy, around 200 visits to physical/occupational/speech therapy and countless other doctors appointments for checkups and other sicknesses,” Waid posted on Facebook.
“Tyson is a fighter and has had a tough battle from the beginning,” she said via Messenger. “He is the sweetest, most gentle little soul.”
Before he was born, Tyson suffered a stroke. It was discovered when Maggie and Colt Waid took their son to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite because he wasn’t hitting his milestones in development.
“They put him to sleep and did an MRI and it showed a stroke (while still in the womb),” Colt Waid told the Rome News-Tribune last year. “They told us he wouldn’t walk until he was four or five years old and he started walking about 17 months.”
Tyson was making good progress from the stroke when he was diagnosed with the brain tumor. He underwent radiation treatments last year and was beginning to learn to walk and talk again.
Then, in April 2020, the tumor returned, and it was bigger.
“The honeymoon phase was over for us,” Maggie Waid said.
The family decided to try a second — and last — round of radiation, and are trying to get Tyson into a clinical trial.
“(H)ow do you handle someone telling you, ‘there is nothing else we can do. We are only trying to buy more time,' " Maggie Waid wrote.
She said Tyson is doing much better now.
“He is going to his therapies every week and continuing to gain his strength back,” she said. “He still isn’t walking on his own, but he is close.”
For now, the family wants to give their daughter, Averie, more time with her brother.
“We hope that this past round of radiation will buy us more time before his symptoms start progressing again. We are trying to make as many memories as a family as possible,” Maggie Waid said.
Other than a cure for Tyson, what the family needs is support. You can follow the Waids’ journey on the Team Tyson Facebook page and share words of encouragement.
For those who want to make a donation, there is a GoFundMe account established, plus PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Venmo (@colt-Waid) accounts.
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Credit: Family contributed photo