Red Deer County boy’s cancer surgery unsuccessful, fundraiser planned

Gavin Hilman with his brothers Wyatt and Hunter. (Contributed photo)

Gavin Hilman with his brothers Wyatt and Hunter. (Contributed photo)

There will be a fundraiser next month to support a Red Deer County family, after the surgery to remove cancer from 11-year-old Gavin Hilman was unsuccessful.

Hilman recently underwent surgery in an effort to remove a large tumour from his abdominal cavity. Doctors removed his gallbladder and other tumours, but ended the surgery early when it was clear it wouldn’t be successful.

Doctors have essentially said Gavin will only have about three to six months to live, his aunt Ashley Naud told The Advocate.

“This surgery had given us a lot of hope that maybe we were going to get to a cure. We haven’t lost that hope – things happen and things are possible. We’re still holding out for a miracle. But we also know the reality of the situation. It shook us to our core,” Naud said Saturday.

It’s been a challenging time for Gavin, his parents Amanda and Neil, and his younger brothers Hunter and Wyatt, said Naud.

“I know there are harder moments and days than others for Gavin. It’s his two brothers that are going through this too. His youngest brother Wyatt, who’s four, I don’t think fully understands as well, but Wyatt, who’s eight, has always been best friends (with Gavin),” she said.

READ MORE: 11-year-old Red Deer County boy battling cancer

Last summer, Gavin was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer, Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumour. The cancer is so rare that only about 400 people have experienced it to date and the survival rate is 15 to 35 per cent.

Right now the family is focused on making memories with each other, Naud added. They are hoping to camp, take Gavin to as many dinosaur parks and museums as possible, and visit the ocean.

“We’re all just trying to live day-by-day and make life beautiful for him and his brothers. That’s really the focus of his parents right now and as his supportive family, we want to do what we can to help,” she said.

A fundraiser dinner, featuring a pig roast dinner, music, cocktails and silent auction, will be held at the Hilltop Wedding Center in Sylvan Lake on Aug. 17.

Tickets, which will be $125 per person or $800 per table, will be on sale soon. Anyone interested in attending is asked to keep an eye on the Warrior Gavin Facebook page for a ticket link and updates.

Organizers are also looking for sponsors and donation items. People interested in sponsoring the event or donating a silent auction item, are asked to contact organizer Kristen Hilman at

A GoFundMe page was launched last year and has raised about $60,000 for the family so far.

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