Meet Triston, our 2020 RMHC Hockey Challenge Honorary Captain!
In 2019, Triston was enjoying his freshman year at Central Washington University when life abruptly changed. He was out on a run one evening in May, and suddenly collapsed. His leg had mysteriously broken and his friend quickly drove him to the nearest hospital in Ellensburg. This night was the beginning of Triston’s unexpected journey.
Triston’s mother, Jada, got the news and swiftly made her way to Ellensburg, a little over 200 miles away. She and Triston soon had an inkling that this was more than just a broken leg, but were hoping it was some kind of an infection. Triston’s leg had blood bruises and swelling that suggested a more significant injury. A biopsy was done and they waited for the pathology report. It was then that Triston was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. With no real history of cancer in his family, and a cancer more commonly found in younger age groups, this was not exactly what they were expecting to hear. Though shocked, Triston and Jada were, and remain, extremely grateful for the care and instinct of the orthopedic surgeon he first saw in Ellensburg. Had Triston gone immediately into operation without a closer look into the leg’s symptoms, the leg would have most likely needed amputation.
In realizing the stress of learning the diagnosis, along with Triston now needing immediate care in Seattle and the travel already endured by the family between Lynden and Ellensburg, his surgeon gave Jada and Triston $700 from his own pocket, just so the family could head directly to Seattle that night. This gracious gesture was able to ease the burden the Tjoelker family was suddenly facing.
Shortly thereafter, in June, Triston and Jada began staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle. With an exceptional team at Seattle Children’s Hospital who are experts in Ewing’s Sarcoma, Triston and Jada felt they were in very good hands.
Triston underwent rigorous treatment as he aimed to tackle the disease. From chemo in the morning, straight to radiation appointments, there was no doubt that Triston was a fighter. Jada said, “The doctors were amazed at how his body reacted and his three-month scans were incredible.” Between treatments, Triston and Jada were able to take solace knowing that they had the House to come home to. With many meals provided, and a safe and comfortable place to heal, the Ronald McDonald House became their home away from home. What was initially expected to be a ten-month stay became just a little over six months. Triston recently left the Ronald McDonald House with no evidence of the disease. As Jada puts it, “The House was a blessing.”
Triston is happy to be back home with his mom, dad, sisters, and friends. Through Nik’s Wish, their family will soon enjoy a sunny vacation (Triston’s leaning towards Disneyland). With his upcoming port removal and surgery, he’ll continue to heal and soon be able to forego his crutches and walk on his own again. Triston’s battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma has inspired his future studies. He hopes to transfer to University of Washington and study Microbiology where he plans to someday work in the hospital or labs.
As our RMHC Hockey Challenge Honorary Captain, Triston will drop the puck on Saturday, February 15th at accesso ShoWare Center in Kent. Click here to learn more about this beloved community event!