The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Georgie Kulczyk
The Courier 

Tucker Dees: A Friend in Need

 

Courtesy of the Dees Family / For the Courier

Tucker, who is currently fighting cancer for the second time, poses with parents Deb and Rod Dees.

It's been 12 years since Tucker Dees won his first fight against cancer. Now he's in the fight for round two.

Dees was born in Glasgow in 1996 and was first diagnosed with cancer in 2003 at the age of six. At that time, he had to fight off three brain tumors, but he didn't have to fight alone. The community of Glasgow supported the family the best way they know how – with friendship and a benefit auction.

In 2006, Dees and his family moved from Glasgow to Great Falls and eventually to the Billings area. He attended high school in Huntley Project and graduated from there in May, 2015. Despite moving away at a young age, Dees has maintained many of his early friendships and still has family living in the area.

By the time he graduated, Dees had been off treatment for 11 years. "We were told that it was very unlikely for his tumors to reoccur at that point," explained Dees' mother, Deb. When he began to develop some vision disturbance in early May, Dees began seeing doctors for what he thought was an eye infection. An MRI in Billings and subsequent biopsy in SaltLake City brought a devastating diagnosis - alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. He had another tumor. The journey began yet again for his family.

The diagnosis this time is different than when Dees was a small child. The recommended treatment protocol includes 42 weeks of chemotherapy: 14 cycles, three weeks each. It also included 28 doses of radiation.

The radiation oncologists in SaltLake City thought Dees would be a good candidate for proton radiation therapy because he had already received radiation therapy at age six. There are not many institutions in the nation that offer this type of therapy, however, and it was not available in SaltLake City. The Dees family was referred to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Therapy Center and radiation treatments began mid-August. Dees finished his last radiation treatment on Sept. 18. While in Seattle for radiation, his chemotherapy regimen was managed by the physicians at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Dees' mother and father, Rod, were both able to make the trips to SaltLake City and Seattle to be with him during his treatments. "We were fortunate to be able to utilize the Ronald McDonald houses in both cities to stay while we were there," explained Deb. "However, we both were away from our jobs. Rod was able to return to Billings after Labor Day and resumed working, but I will continue to be on leave from my job for some time yet in order to assist with his care."

The Dees family has returned to their home in Billings and hopes to manage the remaining chemotherapy treatments there, returning occasionally to SaltLake City for assessment and monitoring.

Dees would like to continue education for diesel mechanics, but presently is unable to work or attend classes. He has weekly chemotherapy treatments and frequent doctor visits. His team of doctors has worked diligently to assist in managing the side effects of treatment, but it's a complicated process. He will continue to have chemotherapy until March 2016.

For anyone interested in donating to the Dees family, there are a few options. A GoFundMe account has been established online and can be found by searching their site for "Tucker Dees." A medical account has also been set up at Wells Fargo Bank.

 

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