Andy's story (in his own words)...
Andy Tyhurst, the inspiration for the next Jamie's Wish Foundation project, was born in 1973. He has two siblings Adam and Abby. He lived in Gladstone, MO.
Andy grew up in New Orleans until his high school graduation. He said growing up in the south left its mark on him as he considered himself a southern boy at heart. He cherished his return visits to New Orleans.
While living in New Orleans, Andy and his family would visit family in Kansas City. He had fond memories of visiting the Northland as a kid, going to Hayes Hamburgers, Red X, Corner Cafe.
After flunking out of college twice, Andy wandered through various jobs and career attempts including baseball, bartending, radio broadcasting, and a short stint as a deckhand on a cruise ship.
Andy had no regrets about his career choices because he was building great life experiences and making lifelong friends along the way.
In 1996, Andy took his first job in sales at Aerotek Staffing firm, owned by Steve Biscotti of NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. It was there he was given a solid foundation and would continue to work in sales the next 20+ years until his last position held at Access Advertising, LLC.
Access CEO, Trae Nunnink really let Andy spread his wings and fly. He started a trade newspaper, radio commercials, voice-overs, copy writing to name a few projects.
In 2009, having felt the void of not completing college for many years, Andy decided to attend school full time again starting with Maple Woods Community College in the Northland, followed by Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, MO where he received a Bachelors Degree in Theater and Cinema.
While taking classes to expand his work skills and learn film production, one of his professors Dallas Henry urged Andy to audition for the MWSU’s first play of the year, “Laughter on the 23rd Floor”, written by Neil Simon.
In a spur of the moment decision to try out, Andy nailed his first ever audition, and simply had the time of his life. Andy continued to act in most of the school plays and also learn the skills he first sought in film production.
After college he continued in theater. Many of the plays he took part of were huge successes including his last stage experience in, “Of Mice and Men” which headlined a Theater Festival in Minneapolis.
He had acted in several plays, commercials, short films throughout Kansas City and also served as Interim Artistic Director for Paradise Playhouse in Excelsior Springs, MO. Andy would continue this busy life of working a regular job and pursuing artistic endeavors until 2015.
It was on April 15, 2015 when Andy's life took a dramatic turn.
Andy went in for a routine physical, x-rays showed he had a burst appendix. His general physician ordered an emergency appendectomy the next day, a painful but routine procedure.
Andy woke up from surgery learning he had Stage IV Appendix Cancer. It had spread to his peritoneum.
Appendix Cancer is extremely rare and dangerous. The only option of a cure is to do a major surgery called HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy), nicknamed the 'mother of all surgeries'. During the procedure, a patients abdomen is opened up and bathed in hot chemo for several hours. The surgery took more than nine hours and it took Andy four months to recover.
It appeared the surgery initially worked. For several months, Andy’s CAT scans were clear. Unfortunately, ten months later, the cancer returned. Andy went through yet another grueling HIPEC procedure. This attempt was unsuccessful. The cancer and tumor growth had spread all over his small bowels. Surgeons deemed Andy inoperable, with additional chemo being the only remaining option.
During Andy's cancer journey, he met and became friends with Aimee Jackson, Founder of Jamie’s Wish Foundation. Once Andy heard the mission of Jamie’s Wish Foundation, Andy wanted to be apart of it with all of his heart.
Andy received his chemotherapy treatments at the University of Kansas Cancer Center North facility. A center filled with amazing staff and compassionate care, but Andy felt the infusion area could use an aesthetic facelift.
Andy said receiving chemo is one of the worst experiences someone could go through. He believed patients need and deserve the most comfortable environment possible. He was working to raise money to convert the University of Kansas Cancer Center North facility from what he called a sterile setting to a comfortable, relaxing spa-like environment.
He loved the thought of renovating the facility because it helps ALL cancer patients, as well as their accompanying family members and staff.
He often asked people to please consider donating to Jamie’s Wish Foundation. He said by enhancing the cancer center environment, you will put smiles on otherwise dreary faces.
On July 5th, 2017 Andy passed away leaving behind an amazing legacy of integrity, moral character and a passion for making everyday a special one for those around him. We will all miss you Andy, with all of our heart.
See below for a video of Andy 7 days before we lost him, speaking of the University of Kansas Cancer Center-North Project: