Five-year-old Dawson Jackson is celebrating Halloween a little differently this year. This month he was diagnosed with cancer, and just recently left inpatient care at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.
Raelynn Soderburg, Dawson’s mother, says that they wanted Dawson’s Halloween to be extra special this year following their recent hardships and as they brace for the coming challenges of Dawson’s illness.
“October 16 of 2020 our son was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic Leukemia,” says Soderburg. “The same cancer I had when I was two.”
Dawson was admitted to the hospital the day before they found out his diagnosis because of a high fever.
On Monday Oct. 26, 2020 they were released from the Stollery following his first eight days of chemotherapy, which is mandatory to do as an inpatient.
For the next three years Dawson will be doing chemo and the family will find out on Nov. 29, 2020 if he will have to continue on the aggressive form of chemotherapy or be transitioned to a less aggressive dosage.
They are currently staying with Soderburg’s grandma in Wetaskiwin because it is closer to the Stollery than Rimbey where Jesse Jackson, Dawson’s father, is from, and Edson where Soderburg is from. It is required for Dawson’s treatment that they be within an hour distance of the Stollery.
“Its just closer for chemo for right now,” Soderburg says. “It’s just easier for us to do it because otherwise we have to drive two hours back and forth to do chemo.”
Given the rising numbers of COVID cases across the province and even in the City of Wetaskiwin, it was decided by the family that it was safer for Dawson to not go door-to-door trick or treating. However, his family wasn’t about to let him miss out on Halloween traditions.
They created a plan for reverse trick-or-treating, where Dawson dressed up in his costume and people came to their doorstep and handed out candy to him.
“We thought of the reverse trick-or-treating idea so at least that way he is not in contact with a lot of people and can have his close family come and see him and make his Halloween a little more special for him,” Soderburg says. “It has boosted his mood already today, I can tell today.”
Dressed as a firefighter, Dawson was thrilled to get so many special visitors in costumes handing him goody bags of treats—and then, some really special Halloween guests came to say hi. The City of Wetaskiwin Fire Department and RCMP officers drove past Dawson’s reverse trick-or-treating set up with lights and sirens on.
At one point the parade of emergency responder vehicles stopped, and out of a fire-truck stepped Sparky, the Wetaskiwin Fire Department’s mascot.
Sparky came and gave Dawson a big hug and a present. In his present Dawson got a special red fireman’s hat and a new firefighter shirt/ costume.
Dawson’s family are currently collecting donations for an online auction that will be held to help ease some of the financial burdens of medications and treatments that they will be facing in the months to come. More information on the auction can be found at ‘Lets fight cancer with Dawson’ on Facebook.
Despite not trick-or-treating this year the way he regularly would, one thing is for sure; for this little fireman—his Halloween is one he won’t forget.