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Young Cancer Survivor Offers Comfort to Other Patients at Kaiser Permanente

He battled a life-threatening cancer with help from Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara cancer care, and now, 8-year-old Tyler DeCourcey is bringing warmth and comfort to other cancer patients at the Santa Clara Medical Center.  Tyler and his twin brother Alex sought donations instead of gifts for their joint birthday, and got enough cash to buy the hospital a subscription to Binkeez for Comfort, a brand of incredibly soft and resilient comfort blankets.

“This is about giving back to the hospital that saved Tyler’s life,” said Sylvia DeCourcey, Tyler and Alex’s mother.

She and her two sons were at the Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara hospital recently, for a “Binkeez donation ceremony” in the Pediatrics lobby.  On hand was Susan Posterro, the founder and executive director of Binkeez, who brought along the first delivery of Tyler and Alex’s blanket donation.


“Binkeez for Comfort is more than just a blanket,” said Posterro. “They’re infused with love that comes out when a child is diagnosed with cancer or other serious conditions.”

Child Life Specialist Wendy Celaya says that over the next year, special “Tyler” blankets will go to children diagnosed with cancer, “as well as those who come into our infusion center with other chronic illnesses.”

Tyler got his Binkeez when he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer found in the nerve tissue. It’s one of the most common cancers in children but it also has a good survival rate for low- to intermediate-risk patients. Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara’s advanced care pediatric unit and cancer care teams treated Tyler and now, he is cancer free.

“Tyler has had his blanket for over two years, it’s been through many treatments (with him), chemo, radiation, surgery, lots of unsavory things on it but it still comes out (of the wash) clean and soft and nice,” said Sylvia DeCourcey.

During the gathering at the medical center, Tyler and his brother spent their time busily unwrapping packages of blankets, tossing them around, wrapping themselves up with the Binkeez, and generally having a great time. They particularly enjoyed horsing around with hospital executives who came to the event.

“Tyler is an amazing kid, and an inspiration to all of us, as to how you deal with the stuff life throws at you and just come out bouncing and looking to the future,” said Susan Smarr, MD and Physician-in-Chief of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center.

During his long hospitalization and treatments at Kaiser Permanente, Tyler was a well-known and well-loved patient. Doctors and nurses were touched by his positive attitude, and regular smile. Athletes and entertainers who visited the Pediatric unit regularly posed for photos with Tyler. And Tyler was often photographed with hospital officials. The weeks and months of therapy worked.

“We’re very privileged and blessed that Tyler got his treatment here and now we can give these wonderful blankets to all the kids like him who are here fighting cancer,” said Sylvia DeCourcey.


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