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Bend boy, 11, battles cancer with support from school, community

Tytan Neff has been in this fight for 10 months -- but he's not in it alone

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- When Tytan Neff noticed a bump on his leg, his parents figured it was something he picked up rough-housing. But when the bump didn’t go away, his parents started to worry.

When they brought him to the doctor, they were given news they never expected.

“When we found out it was cancer, I was struck,” Tytan’s dad, Justin Neff, said recently. “My whole body was just like, 'No way!' I felt like I was in a dream. At that point, we all kind of broke down.”

Shortly after the diagnosis, Tytan underwent surgery to remove a tumor. He was then advised to begin chemotherapy and radiation to keep the cancer at bay. He completed 30 radiation treatments in six weeks and has finished 10 of 15 rounds of chemotherapy.

Since all of his chemotherapy rounds were administered in Portland, his family was forced to sell their home in Bend and move to Portland, for the time being.

“I miss it very much,” Tytan said of Bend, during a visit. “With all my friends being here and being really far away from them and being away from my hometown, it’s really tough.”

But Tytan and his family are not fighting the battle alone. Far from it, in fact.

He was chosen as a sparrow through the Sparrow Clubs USA program. The program supports children struggling with a medical illness.

This year, there are 56 Oregon sparrows. Each child is adopted by students at local schools that spend the school year supporting and raising money for their sparrow. Tytan was adopted by Summit High School.

“I would say one thing that resonated to me about Tytan is his spirit,” Summit senior Mia Hladysh said. “To me, the way he has been conveyed around Summit and through Sparrow Club has always been inspiring.”

Ten pairs of Summit seniors have been raising money for Tytan to help him and his family pay for his medical bills. The students' fundraising will culminate at their annual Thunder Pageant on March 18.

Tytan has also received support from the Make A Wish Foundation, the Pediatric Cancer Foundation Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Portland Trail Blazers and Nashelle Jewelry in Bend, which created a personalized necklace of the moon Titan orbiting Saturn. Each have shown their support for Tytan and his family.

“It’s a big blessing, and I am really happy that they all could help,” Tytan said.

Through the process, Justin Neff said he has learned a lot from his son, most notably not to take things for granted.

“You just appreciate the small things,” he said. “You know, you are sitting there watching him play basketball and doing what he loves. It’s just like, you know, it makes you think that life’s short.”

“You have to get through this,” Tytan said. “It is going to be a tad difficult sometimes, but you can still get through this.”

Tytan will finish his chemotherapy in the summer. After that, he’ll need monthly checkups for the next three years.

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Jordan Williams

Jordan Williams is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jordan here.


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