‘Rest now, sweet boy.’ Han Wheeler dies after battle with cancer
AMMON — Han Wheeler has been surrounded by the love of his family and community since doctors discovered a tumor in his brain last fall.
On Monday evening, the 10-year-old Rimrock Elementary School student took his last breath and passed away peacefully at home in the arms of his parents and siblings.
“Rest now, sweet boy,” Han’s mother, Laramie Wheeler, wrote on Facebook. “Han returned to his Heavenly Father at about 6:30 p.m. He was surrounded by an intense amount of love from family and friends and we are forever grateful for the amount of love this kiddo has been showered with over so few years of life. Thank you for your prayers and love and support.”
Last August, Han suddenly became ill while running errands with Laramie.
“We had just pulled off to the side of the road so he could vomit, and when he finished, he begged me to keep going with my errands so he could get chicken pot pie from the grocery store,” Laramie recalled. “Then he crawled into the back seat and went unconscious.”
That was the last time Han spoke. He was rushed to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center before being taken to Primary Children’s Hospital. Doctors performed surgery to try and remove Han’s brain tumor but the prognosis was not good.
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The community rallied around Han and the Wheeler family. Fundraisers were held and “Team Han” T-shirts with the phrase “Never Tell Me the Odds” were sold to show support. A website was created and “Heroes for Han” was held at McCowin Park with all proceeds going to the Wheeler family.
In January, Laramie posted a tragic update on the Team Han Facebook page:
The MRI results from Han this afternoon were devastating. His tumor has recurred in the brain, and there are now some nodules of it in the spine. The largest one is 1.5 cm. They can’t give us any kind of timeline on what time he may have remaining, nor can they tell us exactly what the cancer may do to him. He could slip into a coma; he could lose more function in limbs, etc., but ultimately there is nothing they can do, and all we can do is take him home and keep working with him.
Han returned to his home in Ammon and the Wheelers continued to document his journey. He celebrated his tenth birthday on Feb. 11 and that same day, Laramie posted a touching video of Han’s brother crawling next to him on the floor and asking for a hug. Han slowly responded with an embrace.
On Tuesday, dozens of Rimrock Elementary students wore Team Han T-shirts to remember their friend. Funeral arrangements are being planned and anyone wishing to leave condolences can post on the Team Han Facebook page.
Days before Han’s death, on his birthday, Laramie wrote that her son brought “more joy in 10 years than some people get in a lifetime.” She candidly shared that she is relying on her faith to help her through this difficult time.
To celebrate Han’s birthday today is bittersweet. To sing to him but not watch him blow out birthday candles or open presents or get excited about a new game or get cake crumbs all over the floor is like a knife to my heart. But he is still here and still fighting, and I still get to rock him to sleep and read stories and love his precious little body, broken as it is. I hope he is at peace. I pray he isn’t suffering. I try to humbly accept God’s will for him and our family and trust that there is purpose in it. More than anything, I try harder than I ever have to know and rely on a Savior whose power goes far beyond my own. His command over the elements is more powerful than Han’s cancer. His resurrection is more powerful than the bondage of death. His ability to comfort is more powerful than my tears of anguish. His redemption is more powerful than my inadequacies. His love is more powerful than my fears. His light is more powerful than any darkness. As I have said before, someday this will all make sense. Today is not that day, but someday it will. Happy birthday my sweet boy. Thanks for bringing more joy to our lives in 10 years than some people get in a lifetime.