“When we got back from canoeing, we packed our bags to begin our hike the next day at Savage Gulf,” Thane said. “The packs weighed about 40 pounds each.”
The part of the Appalachian Trail that Thane and his father hiked was 3.2 miles one way and another 3.2 miles back where it looped.
“We went another 1.4 miles to a waterfall,” he said, setting up camp further from that spot.
After two days of hiking, Thane said, he and his dad reunited with the rest of the family.
With only one full day left, the family spent part of Friday at the iGNiS Glass Studio, where Thane said he and his sister blew glass ornaments.
After lunch, they spent the afternoon at the Tennessee Aquarium before flying home Saturday.
One goal Thane said he has made for himself is to hike the entire Appalachian Trail throughout his lifetime.
“To do it all at one time would take about six months,” he said, but that’s not the way he plans to tackle it.
Ginger said the family is grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time together, considering how difficult the past four years have been.
As a freshman at Peabody-Burns High School in 2009, was nearing the end of the school year went he experienced unexplained symptoms
“I was at a golf tournament, two weeks before regionals, and I passed out,” Thane said. “At first, they thought I was dehydrated, but the symptoms weren’t normal.”
After a CAT scan and MRI on his spinal cord, Thane said, the doctor in Wichita saw something in his neck.
“Two days later, I saw the surgeon and was set up for surgery the next week,” he said.
Instead of having the surgery, the physician ended up getting a biopsy of the tumor.
“Because the surgeon wasn’t sure what was tumor and what was the actual nerves, he wanted to make sure I knew that if he went back in, I would come out with deficits,” Thane said.
He and his parents decided not to have the surgery and chose to find a specialist for a second opinion.
The family found that second opinion with George Jallo, a doctor at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Md.
When he went to Baltimore, Thane said he was told that his tumor was one of the largest Jallo had seen.
“(The tumor) was from C3 to T3 and was inside the spinal cord,” he said.
Among the procedures he had done, Thane said he underwent surgery to open the sack around the spine (the nerves).
After some healing time between May and August 2009, he said he was able to go back for one semester of his sophomore year.
“I tried to do it,” he said, “but then I started doing some home schooling.”
In July 2010, Thane said he found out he had another tumor. From August 2010 to October 2011 he was four weeks on and two weeks off chemotherapy.
“After the chemo was completed, I spent the next year in recovery,” he said.
In addition to thanking the Make-A-Wish Foundation for his trip, Thane also wanted to thank Randy Claassen, the first physician he saw in Hillsboro.
“(Claassen) didn’t just send me home after I passed out,” he said, “he sent me to Wichita.”
He also is grateful to Jallo in Baltimore and his oncologist in Wichita.
It was difficult for Thane to miss so much of his high school years, but he said he is doing his best to take it in stride.
“I have my GED and did my ACT tests,” he said. “I also got into Tabor College and am taking a couple of classes.”
For now, Thane said he is interested in biochemistry, but that could change.
Inspired by his medical problems, he is still considering if this is the direction he wants to pursue.