Poking, prying, surgeries and chemo are a reality for an 11-year-old Langford boy.
Brett Cunard, a, Lakewood elementary school student, hopes his trip to B.C. Children’s Hospital this week is the last time he boards a ferry to receive chemotherapy to fight Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Even with the (hopefully) last round under his belt, Brett will undergo blood work and monitoring.
“Most of the cancer is gone,” said his mother Sarah Cunard. “But there is still some left. I am still kind of scared, but I know he’s going to be OK. But he will need to be checked for the rest of his life.”
After tests in a few weeks, Brett may need to undergo radiation therapy, but his mother says his prognosis is good.
Brett first noticed a lump in his neck nearly a year ago in June 2012.
“He felt a lump in his neck, but it didn’t hurt,” Sarah said.
Over the next few months Brett and Sarah went to several appointments with various doctors. He underwent a needle biopsy, surgery to remove a cervical node, X-rays and various scans.
Many of the tests kept coming back inconclusive and until Feb. 5 when Brett was diagnosed with the cancer.
“It was the worst thing ever, I started to tear up and then Brett was getting tears,” said the single mother. “It was really scary. I didn’t know what to expect.”
He had several masses in his chest that were intertwined with organs including Brett’s heart and couldn’t be removed, his mom said.
After being diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer Brett began his first chemo treatment Feb. 19 in Vancouver.
“He has gotten quite an aggressive treatment. He has chemo for three days, then five days off then one more day of chemo. On the first day of chemo the treatment is 10 hours each time,” Sarah said. “Hodgkins is one of the only types of cancer where you can be an outpatient.”
This last round of chemo will be Brett’s fourth time.
“Brett has been very brave and strong throughout all of this,” said his mom, with pride.
Brett’s grandfather, or Papa has he calls him, comes to town each weekend and travels to Vancouver for treatments.
Brett is an active 11-year-old and when he was diagnosed with the disease, he had to stop playing the sports he loves.
He started this hockey season playing for the Juan de Fuca Grizzlies peewee C2 team as a centre, but after doctors noticed his spleen was enlarged he was told to hang up the skates for a while.
“We had no idea,” said his mother Sarah Cunard. “He didn’t seem sick at all.”
Brett also enjoys racing with Victoria BMX, but as long has his spleen is enlarged, he’ll have to miss out on the summer season as well.
Sarah cut her hours at work to two days a week to take care of Brett and take him to all of his appointments.
Friends and family ran a series of fundraisers for Brett to help Sarah cover living expenses.
“I was overwhelmed in a good way. I couldn’t believe that all these people cared so much,” Sarah said. “I am amazed it all worked out.”