This childhood cancer survivor and Big Orange fan has a bright future ahead.


A routine pediatric check-up hurled one Knoxville, TN couple into a heart-rending journey last year when their rambunctious, seemingly healthy 8-year-old, Sawyer, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Sawyer’s physician noted his platelet counts were low. Subsequent tests showed it was more serious and in just a few weeks, Sawyer was in the hospital for his first 10-day course of chemotherapy. That’s when doctors said his leukemia was classified as resistant to traditional chemo for AML and we were referred to Dr. Haydar Frangoul at The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial. Dr. Frangoul coordinated Sawyer’s pre-transplant treatment with cancer specialists at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, allowing the Dyers to stay closer to home and their support network.

“After the second round of chemo, we were given odds that no parent wants to hear,” said Ron Dyer. “We wanted the doctors to be frank with us, and they carefully outlined our options. We chose a third round of chemotherapy with a non-FDA approved drug that had demonstrated a high success rate with difficult AML cases, hoping to put the cancer in remission so Sawyer could receive a bone marrow transplant.”

During a two-day stay in Nashville preparing for transplant, the Dyers learned prayers had been answered. “We weren’t out of the woods, yet,” said Ron. “Sawyer still had to face four days of full body radiation, a pre-transplant round of chemo and anti-rejection drugs before transplant.”

Sawyer experienced hair loss, nausea and swelling, but his spirit has been unbeatable and the family takes it all in stride with Sawyer’s leukemia in remission!

The avid Vols fan was welcomed home to Rocky Top after fighting leukemia for nearly eight months. Sawyer will attend school and cheer on his favorite team from the home bench this season until his immune system is fully restored.


“The cancer specialists at The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial, the support staff and the TriStar Children Specialists clinic were a well-oiled machine that love on our son, and us, while providing outstanding care. I would choose The Children’s Hospital every day of the week and twice on a Sunday.” - The Dyer Family



For patient referrals, call the TriStar Medical Group Children’s Specialists at (615) 342-7339.