St. Martin teen recovering well after bone marrow transplant

ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - A Jackson County teenager says he knows what Robin Roberts is going through as she returns to GMA Wednesday morning. The young man also had a bone marrow transplant recently.

Tyler Youngblood has been through his share of emotional and physical highs and lows. A year ago, he was fighting a form of Leukemia. Today, he is back in school and looking forward to a cancer-free life.

Tyler, 17, looks quite different these days. Gone are the sores, swelling, and the mask he had to wear to protect him from infections. And his red hair is growing back.

"I haven't really gotten sick or had to go back to the hospital. Life is starting to get back to normal," Tyler said.

In 2011, Tyler was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow. Tyler endured three unsuccessful rounds of Chemotherapy.

"At one point, I thought I was going to die, because I kept relapsing from the chemo. So I guess it just made me look at things different and it scared me a lot," said Tyler.

Last April, Tyler underwent a transplant.  He received bone marrow that was donated by a 52-year-old woman from Germany. Since then, the two have exchanged anonymous letters.

"She told me she has a husband and kid, and that she hopes I'm doing well. And she made a joke about me liking the same kind of candy as her. Now all the blood in my body is an exact match to hers," said Tyler.

When asked what kind of candy they both like, Tyler replied, "Chocolate, German chocolate."

Tyler is finishing up his senior year at St. Martin High School, and he has returned to the game he loves -- tennis.  Tyler credits his remarkable recovery to the overwhelming support from his friends, even strangers, who organized numerous "Team Tyler" fund raisers.

"It's a lot easier when people are thinking about you and care about you. It gives you reason to keep working to get better," said Tyler.

Tyler is still living with uncertainty. Right now, he has a 50 percent chance of a relapse. That chance drops to 20-percent a year after his transplant.

"I just want to go on as if this had never happened and have a normal life," said Tyler.

Since his transplant, Tyler has played in three tennis tournaments. After he graduates this year, Tyler plans to attend community college. He also hopes to meet his donor sometime next year.

"I lost some friends and some friends became even better friends, and without those friends and everybody, I don't think I would have been able to do it," Tyler said.

When asked what he thinks about Robin Roberts returning to Good Morning America, Tyler replied, "I know how she feels."

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.