A two-and-a-half-year-old central Alberta boy was diagnosed with cancer recently.
The diagnosis came Friday, and parents Becca and Ty, of Blackfalds, were in disbelief and weren’t sure how they were going to get through it.
Becca said Wilms tumour, which is what Sammy McKernon has, starts in the kidney.
“He was not sick (before the diagnosis), which is a blessing for us. He was not in any pain,” Becca said Tuesday. “Just a couple weeks ago, we noticed there was blood in his urine.”
Since the diagnosis, the family has found out Wilms tumour is a relatively common type of cancer among children and is treatable.
Tuesday, the little boy was in the operating room, to get one of his kidneys taken out. After the surgery, there will be a biopsy to determine the stage of the tumour.
“They’re hoping it’s (stage) one or two, but we don’t know for sure,” said Becca.
After the surgery, Sammy will need chemotherapy. The length of that is not determined at this time, but could be around six months.
His mother describes Sammy as brave, strong, “very smiley,” loves his older sister Bo, who is seven, and someone who makes everyone laughs.
“The doctors and the nurses here (at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary) are amazed at how still he sits through exams, and how good he is through bloodwork.
“He’s very cool and he’s a little boy, and so he laughs and farts, and smashes things,” the mother said with a chuckle, comparing him to other little boys.
Sammy often asks his mother about the new baby the family is expecting and when it is coming. Becca is expecting her third child in August.
“He keeps asking me, ‘is the baby growing?’ Because he’s really excited.”
Because he’s so young, Sammy doesn’t quite understand what’s going on with him, said his mom.
“That’s been hard for us, but also really nice knowing he’s not scared, because he doesn’t really know. But I would imagine when he comes out tonight (Tuesday night) from his surgery, he’s going to be very upset, because he’s going to have a big owie.”
With the diagnosis, Teresa Rogal, Sammy’s grandmother, started a GoFundMe fundraiser for the family.
Becca and Ty can’t believe the support and donations that are pouring in. People have been writing and praying for the family.
The fundraiser, which started two days ago, reached $14,505 Tuesday afternoon. The goal is $25,000.
“We can’t thank everybody enough. First, we were in disbelief that we were even going through this scary thing.
“Now, we’re in disbelief because of all the love and the way everyone has come together to lift us up when we were feeling hopeless,” she said.
The money will be used for medical expenses, the travel between Blackfalds and Calgary for further treatment and chemotherapy, and also help with the family’s expenses.
That’s because Becca, who used to run a day care centre from her home, will be taking care of Sammy, and taking time off work indefinitely.
With the hospital visits, Ty has also had to take time off work.
“Just because your kid gets sick, doesn’t mean your bills stop coming,” the 26-year-old mother said.
To donate, find the Rooting for Super Sammy fundraiser on GoFundMe.