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Community rallies to help as Kelowna boy continues battle with cancer

Saturday, March 27th, 2010 | 6:00 am

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Kelowna has rallied to help Aaron Wong, a seven-year-old hockey player who was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma in January. (Photo submitted)

By Pieter Uni

Aaron Wong should be in class alongside his two older brothers at Glenmore Elementary. He should be hanging up his hockey gear at the end of a long hockey season.

Instead, the seven-year-old from Kelowna is currently undergoing his fourth round of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma.

In late January, after he complained of pain in his stomach, Aaron was admitted to B.C. Children’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with Burkitt’s, a cancer of the lymphatic system.

His family have spent the last eight weeks travelling to and from the hospital to help Aaron as he recovers from treatment, something Aaron’s father said wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Kelowna’s hockey community.

“News spread that Aaron wasn’t going to be able to complete the hockey season and friends took it upon themselves to support us,” said Neil Wong.

“If we hadn’t received this amount of support, we would have considered pulling our kids from school and moving back to Vancouver. All of our family lives there and it would have made sense, but after experiencing this kind of support, it is no longer even an option. People have donated WestJet points and gas cards that have allowed us to continue to go back and forth from Vancouver.”

After learning of Aaron’s diagnosis, parents of Kelowna’s major midget team put together a care package that included a signed team jersey and other hockey memorabilia and presented it to Aaron, along with a signed stick from former NHL’er and midget coach Brent Gilchrist.

“The support is an indication that we have been accepted into the community and that as a family, we are doing the right things,” said Neil, who moved to Kelowna 17 years ago from the Lower Mainland. “And it tells me this city has hundreds and thousands of people who don’t hide behind four walls, instead they come out and help.”

In addition to the support from the hockey community, Neil said there has been an enormous amount of help from everyone who knows Aaron. He said fundraising efforts are scheduled for upcoming months, including a head shaving at Glenmore on May 14, with proceeds going to Balding For Dollars, an organization that helps support children with cancer and blood disorders at the B.C Children’s Hospital.

“We have been given financial and moral support, we’ve had meals delivered to the home and a raffle draw has been put together, with proceeds to be given to the family.”

And all the support seems to be helping.

The Wong family, who were initially told by doctors that Aaron wouldn’t be able to return home until June, received some good news when they were told that their son could return home for five days because of Aaron’s improvement in health.

Aaron spent time amongst family and friends from Thursday to Tuesday, and the experience was uplifting to both Aaron and those who visited the Wong home.

“There was a steady stream of friends who came and it meant the world to him,” said Neil. “Currently he feels good, but time will tell. Doctors are pleased with his progress and are reducing the intensity of the chemotherapy because he’s doing so much better. Hopefully he will be back in the summer.”

Neil said while it has been a tough time for Aaron and the family, he is looking at the experience through a lens of positivity.

“There is no reason for us to be down, it is a matter of seeing the glass as half full,” he said. “Aaron has been given a 90 per cent cure rate so there is no reason for us to be down. This gives us the opportunity to create awareness. Doctors said there was no reason for Aaron to have this, there is no history of it in our family, so we can send the message that people cannot be lax in their belief that it can’t happen to them.”


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One Response to “Community rallies to help as Kelowna boy continues battle with cancer”

  1. Anonymous says:
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    Aaron’s dad is an amazing teacher, and everyone at KSS hopes for the best! We all miss our teacher!!

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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