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 Tyler Copley

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Tyler Copley

  • Birth 10 Feb 1989
  • Death 7 Aug 2008 Acworth, Cobb County, Georgia, USA
  • Burial Canton, Cherokee County, Georgia, USA
  • Memorial ID 28864411

Tyler Copley dies after long bout with cancer

Acworth teen outlived doctors predictions after diagnosis

By BILL SANDERS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 08/08/08

Connie Copley's faith didn't rest on her son, Tyler, living. It rested on him running.

Her faith, tested and at times battered, provided this visual: Tyler, with two good legs and not a trace of bone cancer, running painlessly and eagerly into the arms of Jesus.


Acworth 19-year-old Tyler Copley on Thursday lost his battle with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of juvenile cancer he had battled since he was 12. Tyler's mother, Connie, had left her nursing job to care for her son full time at home.

Tyler, the gregarious teen whose struggle against cancer was the subject of an AJC story last month, died at home in Acworth about 1 a.m. Thursday. He was 19. Connie had gone across the hall to her bedroom to take a short nap around 11:30 p.m. His dad, Todd Copley, had fallen asleep in a twin bed beside Tyler.

For the Copleys, theirs is a sustaining hope that they believe will outlive the grief. It is a hope of seeing their son again, of a time when cancer won't exist, of heaven.

But here on earth, the end didn't come easy.

Tyler had Ewing's Sarcoma, an often fatal form of juvenile cancer. He had relapsed three times, had his leg amputated in an effort to stave off the cancer, and had outlived just about anyone's predictions.

But for a week slowly faded away. His broken-down body tossed and turned in his Hospice bed. His blank stare hid how much he understood or whether he was in pain. He didn't eat. His limbs were cool and clammy, his torso hot and sweaty.

Connie had the twin bed moved into her son's room Tuesday, the same day Hospice brought Tyler a hospital bed, so her vigil could be round-the-clock.

"We're OK," Connie said Friday. "Just a lot of things to do. Staying busy is a good thing right now."

Viewing and visitation will be Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. at Mayes Ward-Dobbins Funeral Home, 180 Church Street, Marietta.

Funeral services are Sunday at 2 p.m. at McEachern Memorial United Methodist Church, 4075 Macland Road, Powder Springs.

Tyler will be buried Monday at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton.

"We drove up there this morning," Connie said. "It's beautiful."

Tyler will be buried wearing a Boston Red Sox jersey and with a Red Sox cap.

The Copleys never lived in Boston. Being a military family meant it was tough to find a hometown team. So Todd and Tyler decided the Red Sox would be their team.

They took a trip to Fenway Park -- and a handful of other baseball stadiums -- seven years ago, shortly after Tyler was first diagnosed with cancer. Today, a photo album of the trip -- The Man's Book -- is one of Todd's most cherished possessions. Sports was the one thing the two could always talk about. And it was the one part of Tyler's life that belonged to Dad.

It was Connie who had owned Tyler's cancer.

Had he not gotten sick when he was 13, had he been able to date, play sports and go away to college, perhaps Tyler wouldn't have been so connected to his mom.

Those kinds of 'what ifs' have been a part of the Copley home for seven years and they probably always will. What the future might have been is something they can never know.

Here's what they do know: Tyler was a young man of faith, full of confidence about life after death. That gives them peace.

Connie is open about her faith, saying God held her up when she was too tired to stay awake, much less tend to Tyler's every need. And it was His grace, she said, that allowed her to not fall apart when she was planning Tyler's funeral or talking to Hospice nurses for the first time, or sitting in his room hours before he died.

In allowing a reporter to tell his story, Tyler had wanted people to read about his life right up to the ugly end. He wanted people to know of his faith in God, and he wanted people to know that being a Christian didn't mean living a boring life.

"Live for today, but prepare for tomorrow," Tyler said a couple of months ago. "Even if you don't want to go outside your box, do. Go skydiving. Find the joy in your life. Go rafting down Colorado River.

But also be prepared; make sure you're ready. I'd want to tell them that."

In cancer cyberspace, Tyler had become something of a hero. His page on Caringbridge.com has been viewed more than 321,000 times. Thousands have signed his guestbook.

He was argumentative and he was stubborn. He was quirky and he was sarcastic. But when he was visiting sick kids in the hospital and volunteering with special education kids at Harrison High School, he showed the same patience his mother had shown him.

Everyone who knew him described him this way: That's just Tyler being Tyler.

And they loved him for that authenticity.

Back home, life will have to resume for the Copleys. Probably not today, and probably not tomorrow, but soon.

Sara Copley, Tyler's sister, was supposed to start seventh grade Monday. Brother Kirk was to start 10th.

Instead, they'll start Tuesday.


  • Created by: In Memory Of My DAD
  • Added: 8 Aug 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 28864411
  • Barbara Hammons Davis, Dalt
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Tyler Copley (10 Feb 1989–7 Aug 2008), Find A Grave Memorial no. 28864411, citing Georgia National Cemetery, Canton, Cherokee County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by In Memory Of My DAD (contributor 46819856) .