JBF Talks to 11-year-old Gabriel and his parents about their journey.
One day Gabriel complained that his arm was hurting. He often fell at school so my first thought was that it could have been a torn ligament, so we gave him a sports balm to ease the pain. The
older heads would often advise on getting an injury rubbed and it did cross my mind, but I decided to take him to the emergency department at the hospital to get an x-ray done.
The doctor informed us of the seriousness of Gabriel’s ache. He felt a lump already poking out of his skin and told me that it was a tumor. After the x-ray, a biopsy was done and the sample was sent for testing. The biopsy results indicated that Gabriel had cancer.
As a mother, I was scared seeing so many tests done so I decided to take him to the church where my pastor prayed for him and believe it or not, after a month, the tumor disappeared. I believe in healing and I think God healed him. He was able to move his arm without pain.
At the clinic the following week, we met with Dr. Bodkyn who was also surprised that Gabriel was able to move his arm without pain. However, when the test came back from Canada, it was confirmed that it was osteosarcoma – cancer of the bone. We also realized that the fall at school left him with two fractures that weren’t healing because of the tumor. Gabriel still had no pain.
Gabriel started chemotherapy and many more x-rays were done. Dr. Bodkyn told us that the cancer was aggressive. It was by God’s grace cancer had not reached anywhere else. The protocol was for him to be given chemotherapy as well as undergoing surgery. For us as parents, the scariest part was knowing that locally no type of surgery existed to save his hand. The only option was amputation. We also learned that doing it abroad would cost a lot. Being a parent knowing that your child is so young and going through so much, it was difficult to think positively without wondering where the finances would come from. We’re very grateful to the RBC Children’s Cancer Fund and the Children’s Life for their support.
In 2019 a CT Scan revealed that there was a dot on his lung. So time was crucial! We had no passports or visas, so we had to go through the long process of organizing our documents. The JBF office and Mr. Corey pushed so much for us to get through with documents. We thank God for them being there because everything needed to be ready within a short space of time, but we pulled through.
In Canada, they explained the procedure, the complications and possibilities of the surgery. The end result was that they removed a bone from his leg. There are two bones in the lower leg- a big one and a small one. The small bone, as explained by the doctors at Sick Kids, supports 20% of your weight and the bigger bone supports 80% of your weight. They removed the smaller bone and they did a bone fuse on his shoulder where they put a brace to his back from his shoulder straight to his arm. The surgeries took twelve hours. Afterwards, the doctor told me it went really well. They had to remove the socket from his arm so rotation would be less for him but we were reassured after learning that physiotherapy would be of some help.
The procedure was quite long and complicated but essentially the diseased part of the humeral head (long bone of upper arm) of the shoulder joint was removed and replaced with part of the fibula (long thin bone of the lower leg) with its blood supply, to fashion the shoulder joint so that the arm was saved and he has function of same.
While Gabriel was in surgery it was so difficult for me. I was pacing up and down thinking about all the negative things people say about surgeries, but then I remembered my faith and started praying.
Having the boys away while I patiently waited at home, I kept my faith and I stayed strong in prayer every second of the day. I had my supportive parents and family members. I learned to be a little more observant of my children. We need to listen and understand them and pay attention especially when they say somewhere is hurting. Everyone needs his or her individual time and attention.
Chemo made me upset and I felt like staying alone and hiding. I missed school and playing with my friends but they stayed in touch with me so I had that support.
In Canada, I was scared because with the biopsy I was in pain, but after the surgery when I woke up, I felt no pain and I am happy that it’s all behind me.
Ensure you take your child to be checked out immediately if they complain about things – even if it seems minor. Panadol is never the answer to every illness. We thought it was a basic strained muscle and something simple that turned out to be serious.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. Isaiah 41:10
Just Because Foundation