As a Rosedale family navigates the hectic maze of guiding a young son through chemotherapy, the community has taken effort to make this time as stress-free as possible.
“It’s nice to know that when Ethan and I are at the hospital, that if my husband needs to go and get something for Ethan, or if I need to go and get something for Ethan, we know that we can actually go and do it and not worry,” said Tanna Fleming.
Her son, Ethan, has a rare bone cancer in the knee. He has been in and out of Vancouver’s B.C. Children’s Hospital since he was diagnosed in June. Ethan, a Rosedale Traditional student, has had five rounds of chemo therapy so far and countless blood work.
Next month, Ethan will have a long round of tests to determine how much of the cancer the chemo has killed. Pending results, Tanna will likely have to take her son to Edmonton for surgery, as their treating surgeon at B.C. Children’s retires. Doctors will attempt a reverse rhinoplasty to use bone from Ethan’s foot or ankle to create a new knee.
All the hospital procedures are draining to Tanna, she says. But Ethan is doing relatively well.
“Ethan’s good. He’s still little Ethan. When he has something to say, he’s absolutely going to say it. He’s not sugar-coating anything whatsoever,” said Tanna.
A task now for Ethan is to regain about 10 pounds, a requirement for the surgery.
As a family, the Flemings have stood strong through this tough time.
“I think that they’re really strong,” said Tanna’s childhood friend Brandi Bourdon, “auntie” to Ethan. “They’ve just stuck together. Like glue. Some families fall apart. Not this family. Tight. Super tight. Super supportive.”
Bourdon has been working every day to fuel the community events in support of Ethan. Funds raised will help cover living and other expenses for the family as Tanna has had to resign from her position at the bakery at the Real Canadian Superstore in order to care for Ethan.
Bourdon and the community have launched bottle drives from Chilliwack to Langley, fundraiser pub nights as far as Surrey, and bracelet sales to people touched by the story from as far as Australia and Japan. Bourdon is holding garage sales at her home, and one kind soul has purchased airline tickets to be won in a future raffle.
There are also car washes by various community groups in Chilliwack, including one by a local veteran UN-NATO motorcycle club last week that raised $2,000. Ethan got to sit on one of the member’s motorcycles during a brief visit back to his hometown.
“Wonderful guys. The nicest people I think I’ve ever met,” said Tanna. “Ethan was a little nervous about the bike, but they made him feel so comfortable, and so secure. And his face was so lit up with happiness.”
Tanna recognizes she will have to return to work eventually.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future with Ethan,” she said.
She is grateful to the community for allowing her the freedom to purchase whatever Ethan firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com/alinakonevski