Our bold, passionate, courageous, & cherished Tanner, age 15, was called Home on Sunday, September 22 2019 to join his Brother Noah.
Tanner spent 13 of his 15 years battling huge medical trials. They began at 21 months when he was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma. They continued through chemo, a liver transplant, hearing loss and kidney disease. At age 8 we found out that Tanner had AML (leukemia) that had been caused by the treatments he had received years prior. Once again he began a fight for his life. He survived heart failure and a bone marrow transplant. The last 6.5 years he has struggled with complications that have kept him from fully recovering and living the life he always dreamed of. He spent a large part of his life immune compromised. Due to treatments he hadn't grown since finding the leukemia. He was 4'4". In his heart he hated being different, but most people would never know that. He tried his best to have a positive attitude and a smile on his face. He dealt with chronic pain and fatigue. Most days were rough. But Tanner got up and got dressed and made the most of each day. He was a walking Miracle. He beat death over and over and felt almost invincible. As hard as his life was, he was grateful for it, and wanted to continue living it. We are heartbroken that death came for our superhero.
One of Tanner's favorite quotes: "Be believing. Be happy. Don't get discouraged.Things always work out." --
President Gordon B. Hinckley
Tanner is the son of Megan Larsen Nielsen-Litster (Mike) & Jason Nielsen (Sherrie). He grew up with his brothers Austin and Noah who he adored. He was blessed with many other siblings, including: Markus, Haley (Aaron), Leah, Jane, Jake (Hannah), Alli, Isaac, Edyn, Eli & Ezra. Grandparents: Doug & Shirley Larsen, Cai & Suzanne Nielsen and Dean Litster. Tanner had many aunts, uncles & cousins who will miss him as well.
Tanner loved animals. 5 years ago he picked out a kitty at the animal shelter and there was an instant bond for both. He named him TJ, after his initials. 3 years ago he rescued a red-headed, depressed, obese chihuahua. Once again, there was an instant bond. He saw himself in this sweet dog and was so happy to give her a good life. Over the years Tanner has bred guinea pigs, that he built cages for. He has had mice & gerbils. Currently he has cats, his dog Taf, geckos (that he was working to breed), a guinea pig, 3 rat sisters, and a cockroach. Tanner recently applied to be a volunteer at the zoo. The interview was 6 days after being admitted to the hospital this last time. He was really sad that he wouldn't be able to make it. I found out he had recently texted my friend in Texas (Yvonne, he loved you dearly!) that he had found someone selling marmosets, and wondered if she'd pick them up and bring them to him. He loved all animals and wanted all the animals too. He was known for telling people if they decided they didn't want their animal anymore that he would take it. My only regret is not letting him have more! He always loved the therapy animals at the hospital.
Tanner has always loved music and had many different instruments. He hoped to one day play them all. Anyone who knows him would say his favorite instrument was the ukulele. He had multiple ukuleles, including one he was so excited to find at a pawn shop, an electric one, a sparkly gold one, a clear one (that he got as a bribe for a painful procedure) and a purple one. Tanner played the piano and sang. He especially loved making videos for his YouTube Channel. His final words on his channel were "I will see all you warriors next time, back on the Cancer Warrior. Thank you very much for watching, and see you later!"
Tanner enjoyed having a phone and messaging friends and family. No one will miss his communication more than his Grandma Shirley, who he Facetimed with every night before bed. Even when he was too sick to talk he would Facetime her just to have her there, even if no words were said. He knew that when he needed someone she was always there.
Tanner had a determined spirit and personality. I always said it's why he lived so long. He needed that fight inside to get through all the things he was faced with. If he wanted something he did everything in his power to make it happen. He recently got his learners permit and loved driving. He was looking for a job and had a "car fund" where he was saving money to get his own car. He had just started his sophomore year of high school and loved every minute of it. Looking back, I think something in him had a drive to pack as much into life as possible with the time he had.
Tanner loved People. His Meyers-Briggs personality type was "the Entertainer." Tanner was a typical 15 year old in many ways, but also retained the innocence of youth, and had a wisdom and maturity far beyond his years. He was the total package, really. It didn't matter what age you were, Tanner would find a connection. Tanner was blessed with many cancer warrior friends. Having spent so much time in the hospital, Tanner was never afraid of it.
Quite the contrary. He loved it there (most of the time.) He loved the doctors, nurses, techs, volunteers, music therapy, and others he came to know at Primary Children's. When he was little he would call it "my hospital."
Tanner has always had such a entrepreneurial drive. He would come up with ideas and ask me to post on Facebook. Thank you to all my friends who supported his endeavors through the years. One year he made wreaths, and another he made stamped metal bracelets. In December 2013, just one year after spending a month in the PICU in heart failure that nearly took his life, he organized "Tanner's Christmas Project" to give back to the kids at the hospital. Tanner had a compassionate and loving nature and always wanted to brighten the lives of as many as he could. Again, thank you to my friends and family for your sweet support of my boy.
The highlight of Tanner's summer (his year really) the past several years was Camp Hobe. He also loved photography and collected many types of cameras. Tanner also loved sports. He played T-ball and soccer when he was younger, and was so excited for the day he was well enough to play soccer again. That day didn't come in this life, but I know he has it now.
As Tanner's mom I am grateful for the abundance of time we were able to spend together. He would often thank me for all my efforts in keeping him alive. I am so sorry that in the end I was powerless to make his body better like he wanted. Like we all wanted. He had the sweetest heart and I can't imagine a greater blessing than that of being his mother. Every day with Tanner was an honor and a privilege.
Farewell for now my son.
"Not gone away, just gone ahead."
All are welcome to attend the viewing and funeral
Viewing: Monday September 30, 2019: 6-8 pm Farmington Russon Mortuary
Funeral: Tuesday October 1, 2019: 11 am Wasatch Chapel, 789 East Wasatch Drive. Layton with Viewing prior from 9:30-10:30
Tanner will be laid to rest next to his brother Noah at the Kaysville Cemetery.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Tanner Judson Nielsen, please visit our floral store.