Zach Tucker

Zach Tucker

Zach Tucker

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Zach Tucker

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Author/s: Sherry & Dirk

Zach Tucker’s Story

Zachary was a healthy active seven year old who loved sports with a passion. Whenever he had a chance, he would be outside, shooting “hoops,” playing kickball or throwing a football. The sport didn’t matter as long as there were friends and a ball. All this changed in late June 2005. While on vacation, Zach’s parents noticed he was not using his left hand. When asked why, he responded “it’s just not working right.” Puzzled, they figured he had injured it while playing and waited until they returned from vacation to visit a doctor. Zach was referred to a pediatric neurologist after a couple of family practice doctors were stumped by his symptoms. Pediatric neurologists were scarce and the soonest available appointment was in late July. When his symptoms worsened, his mom, demanded a visit with the neurologist. That day, July 11, 2005 will forever be burned in the Tucker family’s memory. On that day, Zach was diagnosed with a brain tumor on the right side of his brain.

Zach was immediately transported to All Children’s Hospital in Saint Petersburg, Florida to have the tumor removed. After a more extensive MRI study was performed, Zach underwent a craniotomy on July 13, 2005, his 8th birthday. Dirk and Sherry, Zach’s parents, felt as if they had entered their worst nightmare. Their youngest child, who just weeks before had won every event he swam in during a swim team competition, was facing a life or death challenge. The surgeons were successful in removing the tumor, but when the pathology report was completed, the family received another blow, the tumor was cancerous.

Zach’s tumor was found to be a glioblastoma multiforme tumor. Dirk and Sherry were told this type of tumor was considered rare in children, usually being found in adults over 50 years of age. They were also told the tumor was classified a stage four tumor and very aggressive. Treatment options were limited with a full course of radiation coupled with chemotherapy being the standard protocol. After frantically researching the internet and finding the prognosis very grim, a family friend sent them information on proton radiation therapy. There were only three facilities providing this type of radiation in the entire country. One of those facilities happened to be located just 20 minutes from Dirk and Sherry’s hometown in Indiana and had an immediate opening. Feeling God had opened a door for them and praying this therapy might defy the odds by providing a cure, Zach began receiving proton therapy on August 25, 2005 at Midwest Proton Radiation Institute.

Zach received 33 radiation treatments and was on a pill form of chemotherapy during the entire radiation period. He also attended occupational and physical therapy to help his left side regain strength. The Tucker family was blessed by being surrounded by their loving extended family and living with Sherry’s parents. Zachary became much stronger during the treatments and experienced virtually no side effects. Everyone was amazed with Zach’s optimism and spunk even as he faced the grueling treatment schedule of daily radiation, numerous pills and weekly blood draws.

The Tucker’s returned to their home in Florida mid-October. Zach began fighting the side effects from the many medicines he was taking. The biggest challenge was low blood counts and nausea. Within three weeks of being home, Zach was admitted to All Children’s for a nine day stay due to severe nausea and vomiting. After modifying his medicines and with his ever present determination, Zach pushed forward living his days as much as he could like any other eight year old boy.

A new treatment plan was established when Dirk, Sherry and Zach went to visit a neuro-oncologist at Duke University on November 22, 2005. The treatment plan was aggressive; alternating the pill form of chemo Zach had been taking with an IV form of chemo in 10 week cycles. Zach started the second cycle of this treatment plan and became very dizzy and unstable after taking the pill form of chemo. It became obvious something was wrong when the dizziness caused Zach to fall from the family’s SUV and suffer a concussion. Zach had a follow up MRI on March 31, 2006 and it was discovered he had a new lesion on his brain stem. That day, the family was told there were few if any treatments available medically to heal Zachary.

Knowing God was the only possibility for a cure, all that knew Zach’s story began praying for a miracle. Zach was healed on May 9, 2006 when God took him to Heaven. Dirk, Sherry and Lexi’s hearts rejoiced knowing he was running with the angels and had the biggest, brightest smile on his face. To be free of the pain, medicines and the broken body he had on earth was a miracle indeed! They continue to place their faith and love in God because they know He has a greater plan than we can see. They miss Zach desperately, but take comfort in knowing they will see him again in Heaven.

Throughout this journey, the Tucker’s were overwhelmed with all the love and support they received from their friends and family. They BELIEVE the power of prayer caused many miracles to occur for Zachary through his journey with cancer. They have found their faith in God is the only way to get through their life here on earth. They want to share the love and support they felt and the peace they received by letting God become the center of their lives with those still battling cancer. Giving Hope Through Faith Foundation is dedicated to their brave hero Zachary to accomplish this mission. God’s purpose for Zachary was great and it should be shared with many.

Hug your babies everyday! Live life with purpose!

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“Joy” – March’s Letter of Hope

Who can say God does not have a sense of humor after looking at this photo? Our amazing Father in Heaven, the One who created every detail of this universe and everything it contains, also created this dog! It is clear He wants us to LAUGH. I think it gives our Creator great joy when we make the most of our time here on earth. When the complications and challenges of cancer enter our lives, this becomes down right difficult at times – BUT even more important – as we realize that each day we have together is truly a gift.

Looking back over our journey with Zach after his diagnosis, the times of silliness, fun and laughter are our most cherished memories! As all of you know, when a day contains any level of “fun” while in the confines of a difficult treatment schedule, it could be labeled as a GOOD day. Add some face splitting smiles or deep down belly laughs and it suddenly becomes a GREAT day! It is our hope and prayer you find many great days ahead as you continue your battle.

Take the time to celebrate half birthdays as well as the real thing. Stop and play a board game or have a water gun fight even when you have about a million “other” things to do – you won’t regret it. Let go of the pressures that can surround you when facing the unknowns of the future, and take in our amazing sunsets or gather a big bouquet of bright colorful flowers. It is easy to overlook these wonderful, intricate treasures God gives us each and every day. Just to sit quietly with your child or spouse, hold hands and leave the world behind can fill your heart with an enormous amount of joy that can never be taken away.

No matter how hard we try, I know there are days where smiles and laughter are no where to be found. The reality and pressures of all the pokes, treatment plans, nausea, blood draws and pills can become overwhelming to the point of desperation. These are the days when you have to force yourself to do the opposite of what you are feeling and focus on the joy that comes from knowing God. This is the joy you experience in your heart – even in the depths of despair and sadness – when you surrender to God and allow yourself to lean on Him for strength. I have experienced this joy even on the very darkest of days. I can tell you without hesitation, if I did not have access to this wonderful gift – the joy of knowing our Father has so much more for us than the trials we face now – I would have surely fallen to despair long ago. Having the joy in my heart only the Holy Spirit can give through Jesus Christ is what gives me the strength to find smiles and laughter as I face each new day.

Here are some scriptures and promises from God related to this wonderful gift of joy.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 (LB)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2 (NIT)

“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, ‘The LORD is great!’” Psalm 40:16 (LB)

“Let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy.” Psalm 68:3 (LB)

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward.” Hebrews 12:2 (LB)

“I know the LORD is always with me…No wonder my heart is filled with joy.” Psalm 16:8-9 (LB)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22 (NIV)

“Happy are those who obey his decrees and search for him with all their hearts.” Psalm 119:2 (LB)

“I will continue with you so that you will grow and experience the joy of your faith.” Philippians 1:25 (LB)

“The joy of your LORD is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)

“When all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew you had better things waiting for you in eternity.” Hebrews 10:34 (LB)

“In your presence is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11 (NKJ)

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8 (NIV)

Happiness can be a fleeting thing. Joy, on the other hand, will stay in your heart always when it carries the promise of salvation. God does not promise us a life filled with happiness – when sin entered this world that became an impossibility. He knows we will face many trials and difficulties as we take our journeys together here on earth. What he does promise is lasting joy for all those who surrender their lives to Him. Joy from the Holy Spirit is an everlasting joy for us all.

Dear friends, it brings our hearts happiness AND joy to share these words and gifts with you. We hope you can find many smiles and much laughter as you continue on each day. Remember to be looking for those silly moments that can make smiles appear and know every smile you give away will be much better when it comes back to you on the face of another. Our prayers will be sending you joy for your journeys each and every day!

“Therefore I live for today-
Certain of finding at sunrise
Guidance and strength for the way.

Power for each moment of weakness,
Hope for each moment of pain,
Comfort for every sorrow,
Sunshine and joy after the rain!


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Our Core Values

1) We believe that we live in a broken world, resulting in disease and suffering – but that God can take what is broken and use it for His glory, by drawing people to place their hope and trust in Him.
Romans 8:18 – “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

1 Peter 4:13 – “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

2) We believe that the most rewarding and fulfilling life is only found within the context of a relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

3) We believe that those who face the emotional, physical, and financial challenges of dealing with a loved one suffering from cancer can find the hope and faith to take on these challenges, and that their SUFFERING doesn’t have to occur in vain, but can be the impetus for their spiritual growth and foundation for peace, joy, and hope – under any circumstances.
James 1: 2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

4) We believe God uses people; that we are His hands and heart to a world suffering with physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Matthew 25:34-40 – “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'”

5) We believe that life is not about what we’ve acquired, but about what we’ve given – to serve others and God. The Giving Hope Through Faith Foundation is the catalyst by which we – along with our sponsors and volunteers – can accomplish this.
1 Peter 4:10 – “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

Giving Hope Through Faith

Memoir – Unfinished Love: Walking By Faith Through Pediatric Cancer


Giving Hope Through Faith Foundation exists to spread the love that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. The idea for the Foundation grew from the lessons sent from God through a journey traveled by one little eight-year-old boy, Zach Tucker. It became clear to many, God had a much bigger purpose for Zach’s life. He was sent to us to open our eyes to the promise of eternal life and that no matter what the circumstances, God was always present.

What we Do

Families impacted by cancer — primarily pediatric cancer — sign up for the 12-month program, which entails receiving each month a theme-based package, including $125 in gift cards. The “Box of Smiles,” for example, includes toys and books, and there are inspirational, faith-based items as well, including a personalized Bible that is shipped with the final package.

Giving Hope Through Faith Foundation will provide at least $100 in grocery, gas or discount store gift cards once a month for a year to Tampa Bay-area families that have a member undergoing treatment for cancer. Along with these cards, the Foundation will provide uplifting messages sharing God’s promises. It is the Foundation’s hope that the Kingdom of God will be glorified as we share our FAITH, and it will be giving HOPE to those who need it most.

How you can help

After reading about our Zach’s Legacy of Hope project we hope you feel moved to help us bring HOPE to these families in need. As always, every donation – whether a gift card, cash or a check – is fully tax deductible.

• A gift of $1,500 funds a family for an entire year
• A gift of $500 funds dinner for 20 of our families
• A gift of $100 funds 5 boxes of toys for our families
• A gift of $25 funds a night at the movies for one of our families

Please consider supporting our foundation. Your donation will not only celebrate the memory of one very special boy, it will touch the lives of many more. Click below for a donation by credit card or send your gift to the address on the right. Thank you for helping us GIVE HOPE!!!

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