When Tanner Noble went to LaBrae High School, he focused on playing football. He hated running, but it was still one of his favorite things to do.
However, Tanner’s weight began decreasing rapidly until he lost 60 pounds over six months. As his weight dropped, it became increasingly difficult.
“I was only 110 pounds and I was going up against people who were a foot taller than me,” Tanner said.
Tanner and his family sought out medical answers as the changes in his health continued, but struggled to find answers at first.
A diagnosis didn't come for more than a year.
“We had every opening on his body scoped looking for problems," his mother Demetra said.
As Tanner’s health continued to decline, the Noble family kept pressing for answers.
Finally, a scan found lesions on his liver.
The liver scan finally gave the family the answers they were looking for, but it seemed too late.
“By the time we were recommended to Cleveland Clinic and properly diagnosed, he was Stage 4B in Medullary Thyroid terms, which was spread to lymph nodes, bones, liver and lungs," Demetra said.
Upon his diagnosis, his family went into what Demetra described as “shock mode.”
“He was fighting and I was fighting with him, but I would look back at pictures of him and say, ‘How did I not know?’” Demetra said.
Despite his diagnosis, Tanner attended school every day.
“The other kids never seemed to realize how sick he was,” Demetra said.
Life had changed drastically for the Nobles. While they were focused on helping Tanner fight cancer, his father Robert lost his job and the medical bills rose to $1.3 million after treatments. In order to help ease the financial stress, Demetra took out a second insurance policy.
Community members stepped in and gave the family the assistance they needed for Tanner’s treatment. Local fundraising events and donations including car shows, basketball games, golf outings and donations from local churches helped the family meet the financial needs of Tanner’s treatments.
The trial drug Loxo, which Tanner is currently using, is free and has helped him return to a place of semi-normalcy.
“I realized I was able to be half normal,” Tanner said. “I was able to finally have a job, go to school and just be myself again without worrying about being sick.”
Tanner’s illness is incurable. However, it is treatable and his mother says he is now the healthiest he has been since as far back as she can remember.
“Tanner is able to function at a higher level by working a job, lifting and living a normal social life," Demetra said. "His cancer levels are low, which has given him the ability to have energy and gain weight."
Even though he is feeling better, Tanner is determined to keep fighting. This fall, he will attend Kent State University at Trumbull to pursue degrees in creative writing and psychology.
Tanner and his mom advise anyone, whether or not they are struggling with medical issues, to live each day as if it were their last.
“I want to show other people that no matter what, you can do what you want,” he said.
Alex Johnson is a reporter. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.