A Chilliwack firefighter with cancer was given a surprise send-off just days before his surgery.
Jon van Huigenbos was heading into hospital for a hemipelvectomy — an amputation of his right leg at the hip. His wife, Emily, wanted to bring him a little cheer to get him through the process, and called on some family to organize a drive-by parade at their home. She had hoped a few family and friends would join in.
“I also had mentioned that a fire truck would be cool too, as Jon was a paid-on-call firefighter for eight years,” Emily writes in a blog detailing Jon’s journey. “Little did I know that the whole Chilliwack Fire Department, which includes five outlining halls, fellow classmates from our children and a handful of people from our church joined our families.”
They counted 130 cars, and 22 fire trucks, including at least one vintage truck. In addition to having video coverage of the event, MarKay Photography was there to document it all for the family.
“It was beyond amazing! Jon was so shocked and moved,” Emily says of whole parade.
In the video, streams of cars slowly drive by, with people honking, waving, standing through their sunroofs, and dropping cards in a plastic bucket alongside the residential road. But that’s not all the love the family has received.
There is a GoFundMe account that is quickly gaining funds that will help the family through Jon’s recovery and rehabilitation, and even the necessary adaptations to the family’s home that will be needed when he gets there. In just a few days, the GoFundMe has gained more than $7,700 for the family. His fellow firefighter Ben Maljaars is managing the account.
“Jon has been a dedicated volunteer firefighter in Chilliwack for almost eight years, rarely missing a call and this surgery will obviously change that career as he knew it,” Maljaars writes. “Jon and his wife Emily have three beautiful children. This surgery will change the dynamic of their family life, and this fundraiser will help ease the burden of these changes. The funds will go into an account that will help with expenses related to this surgery.”
Most importantly, Maljaars adds, is that people pray for Jon, Emily, and their children.
This is Jon’s second time dealing with cancer. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with a form of sarcoma cancer by his sit bone. That required five weeks of radiation and surgery to have the cancer removed. The doctors had felt the treatment was a success, but as a follow up, Jon was given six month scans. At Christmas the scan showed that the cancer had returned, and surgery was required once again. In March, he went to have the tumor removed, but when he was open they found a mass of scar tissue that did not show on scans. That tissue ended up having cancer cells present, which all lead to the decision to amputate.
Now, the amputation has been completed, and Jon is reportedly doing well recovering in hospital.
To help their family or contribute to the GoFundMe account, visit the following pages:
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.