Meet

Liam

Age: 13
Hometown: Martensville, SK
Condition: Cancer

“Are you sitting down?” and “do you have someone with you?” asked Liam’s doctor when he initially called Liam’s mom Carmen.

Liam had been dealing with a lump on his right elbow for a while. Originally Liam and his family were told that it was a hematoma, more commonly known as a bad bruise. What didn’t align with the diagnosis was that as time progressed, Liam’s hematoma did not progress; it only grew in size.

It was just hours before the phone call Carmen received that would change their family’s lives forever, that Liam was receiving an ultrasound to see if his team could pinpoint what the cause of the growth was. The words that came after the doctor’s initial comments were ones that Carmen won’t forget.

“Liam has an aggressive tumor growing on his inner elbow suggestive of a sarcoma of some type and we need to have more tests,” said Liam’s doctor.

Liam had just finished a soccer game and was now playing with his brothers just around the corner from where Carmen answered the phone. In one moment their lives went from what they had always known to a completely new normal that they now stood in front of, scared, confused, and nervous about what they were really walking into. The family went from loading onto the car to attend one of the three kids’ various activities to now loading up the family into a car to help Liam fight cancer; it was a reality no one was ready for.

Next up for Liam was an abundance of tests and procedures, including surgically inputting a port into Liam, to identify what variation of cancer this was and the degree of its severity. At the end, it was determined that Liam had Ewing’s Sarcoma.

The treatment plan that was laid out in front of Liam was seven rounds of chemotherapy consisting of a two-week admittance at Saskatchewan’s Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital per round, the surgical removal of the tumor on his elbow, which would then be followed by another seven rounds of chemotherapy.

In September, Liam and his family packed up their bags and made the trip to Toronto from their home in Martensville for Liam’s surgery, thanks to the Air Canada Foundation’s Hospital Transportation Program through Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. The surgery Liam was about to undergo was extensive, complex, and incredibly time-consuming. In the family meetings with their surgeons in Toronto it was explained that Liam’s surgery would last roughly 15 hours. They explained that because of the placement and size of the tumor on Liam’s elbow, in order to fully remove it, they would have to also remove a piece of bone on Liam’s elbow. Due to that, they would need to shave off a piece of bone from Liam’s fibula and replace the bone in his elbow they just removed.

On September 29, 2022, Liam said his goodbyes to his family as they rolled him into the operating room to begin his surgery. Liam entered the operating room at 10:45 a.m. local time and exited at 4:45 a.m. the next day – the surgery lasting a total of 18 hours, three more than was originally anticipated.

What Liam displayed after his surgery was to the utter shock and dismay of his medical team. Only a day after Liam’s surgery, he was already sitting up in his bed and asking to begin physiotherapy. From the surgery, Liam is affixed with an external hinged fixator that goes from his shoulder down to his forearm, an aircast and walking boot on the leg that the piece of bone was removed from, and another walking boot on his other leg due to nerve damage suffered from laying on the operating table for more than 18 hours.

When thinking about how Liam has handled this entire situation, Liam’s mom says, “Cancer comes with many gifts wrapped in barbed wire and in some odd way Liam says he will be thankful for this experience for our greatest life lessons are learned through pain. He has already seen the ways in which his strength has grown and he knows he can face hard things.”

Not only has this battle and journey been an excruciating test of bravery and courage for Liam, it has ultimately had the same effect on his entire family.

“For us as his parents, we have learned that the greatest privilege in our lifetime is to be able to be the arms of love, comfort, and safety during our child’s greatest hour of need. He really is an inspiration to us all,” said Carmen about the inspiration Liam has not only provided his parents but his brothers, his friends, and the entire community of Martensville.

 

On October 13, 2022 Liam made the journey home from Toronto back to Saskatoon. Without even stopping for a meal or to freshen up at the house, Liam, his mom, and his dad drove their car straight to JPCH to begin Liam’s eighth round of chemotherapy.

The journey forward is lengthy, complicated, and with many unknowns but as Carmen says, “Liam is facing this journey with curiosity and bravery.”

One day, Liam aspires to be a doctor. After experiencing the grueling and intense battle himself, he knows what a big part his doctors had to play in the road to his recovery. From his doctors in Saskatchewan at JPCH who began and will continue Liam’s future treatments and maintenance, to the doctors who spent 18 hours in an operating room with a kid they didn’t know, Liam knows he wouldn’t be here today without them. Liam hopes to one day be able to pay-it-forward to help other sick children in Saskatchewan.

Today, Liam attends Flex ED, a school that is completely online meaning he can do it from the comfort of his own home or his hospital bed. Liam even has the built in benefit that his mom is one of the teachers of his grade six class. In Liam’s free time, he loves playing video games with his friends, watching his favourite show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and playing with his brothers.

To support kids like Liam, please donate today.

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