After a nine-month struggle with cancer, Tyrell Dueck died at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon on Wednesday, June 30. He was 13 years of age. His parents, two sisters, family and a host of friends mourn his passing.
Last October, Tyrell discovered a lump on his leg after slipping in the shower. Tests revealed that is was cancer, a rare osteosarcoma. According to doctors, once this cancer moves into the lungs, the survival rate is reduced to about 10 percent.
Tyrell’s fight for life might have remained a private agony had he and his family opted for traditional cancer therapy. Their decision to depend on prayer and to pursue alternative treatments, however, thrust them into the courts of Saskatchewan and of public opinion. Decision-making moved from the confinement of their home to the arena of societal scrutiny.
Tyrell and his parents, Tim and Yvonne, were devout Christians; from the beginning of this ordeal, they decided to trust God and natural alternatives for Tyrell’s healing. It took a court order to force him to undergo medical care at the cancer clinic in Saskatoon.
By March 1, Tyrell had undergone nearly two complete courses of chemotherapy. He refused to take further treatments and missed scheduled tests three times during the month of March. Once more the Department of Social Services stepped in – but by now the injunction was unnecessary as cancer had already spread to Tyrell’s lungs. Permission was granted for him to pursue alternative treatments in Tijuana, Mexico.
During those last hearings, Joseph Bourgault, a health-food store owner and implement manufacturer from St. Brieux, Sask., offered to help raise money to pay for the nearly $50,000 in treatments. Hundreds of people across North America followed the case, sent suggestions for alternative treatments and stood behind the Duecks with prayer and financial support. Donations may still be sent to the St. Brieux Credit Union.
According to news reports, Tyrell seemed to improve during his time at the American Biologics clinic in Tijuana. Doctors there contradicted a report by Saskatoon doctors regarding the spread of the disease.
Within a week of returning home, however, Tyrell’s condition deteriorated rapidly and his last week was spent in palliative care at St. Paul’s Hospital.
The funeral service was held at the Gruenthal Church, located 25 kilometres north of Saskatoon. Pastor Earl Grigory told mourners that there would be no sad sermon because Tyrell was not a sad person.
“Tyrell is healed now,” Grigory said. “He’s in the heavens with a perfect body. There is no pain and no sorrow.”
Although it is not customary for a father to speak at his son’s funeral, Tim Dueck took the opportunity to share his grief and his memories with the mourners.
“I lost my hunting buddy,” he said in reference to Tyrell’s love of hunting and fishing with his father.
As tears streamed down his face, Dueck shared his memories of Tyrell’s battle and of his determination to trust God.