A summers go, it was a traumatic, life-altering one for 17-year-old Jesse Ganson.
The Lacombe teen was diagnosed with a brain tumour in June.
He underwent immediate surgery in Edmonton, followed by two months of aggressive treatment of radiation and chemotherapy in Oklahoma.
Throughout his ongoing, painful ordeal, which resulted in a 14-kg (30-pound) weight loss from Jesse’s already lanky frame, relatives marvelled at his strength and courage.
“The whole time, he took things in stride, reassuring everybody that he’ll be all right. He went through so much . . . with nausea and vomiting. He was never unpleasant or complaining. It amazed all of us,” said his aunt, Londa Beavington.
As Jesse is set to start Grade 12 at the Parkview Adventist Academy using a walker for balance, Beavington now wants to ease some of the burden on his parents.
A fundraising benefit is being planned for Sunday, Sept. 9, at the Lacombe Memorial Centre to help Jesse’s mom and dad cover the cost of their prolonged stay in Oklahoma (while Jesse’s older brother, Joel, stayed home).
Beavington said Shanna and Gerald Ganson, were advised by doctors to take their younger son to the U.S. for a type of radiation treatment that is still unavailable in Canada.
Since Jesse’s brain tumour was found to be a very aggressive type that often will jump intdo the spinal column, doctors prescribed proton radiation because it mostly targets stray cancer cells, reducing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
With one year of proton radiation and chemotherapy treatments, the “typical teenager,” who was described by his aunt as enjoying playing computer games, was given an 80 per cent chance of survival.
Jesse is now reunited with his brother at home after successfully completing two months of treatments in the U.S.
He is looking forward to seeing his friends and returning to school, said Beavington.
Jesse’s Oklahoma medical treatments were covered by Canadian medicare. But the teen’s parents had to miss work and stay at a hotel during their two months in the U.S. (Gerald works as a computer programmer at Red Deer College and Shanna is a former day school operator).
Also, the Gansons have already used their entire lifetime allotment of extended health-care benefits to pay for Jesse’s medication, so far.
“Any further purchases will have to come out of their pocket,” said Beavington, who hopes the fundraiser will help ease the financial load.
Many musicians are donating their talents, including Justine Vandergrift, a bluesy singer/songwriter, and country crooner Steve Arsenault, both of Red Deer, and Edmonton jazz singer Jenie Thai and folk musician Braden Gates.
As well, there will be performances from the Lacombe Flat Iron Jazz Band, which Gerald plays trumpet with, as well as members of the Red Deer College Faculty of Music, and others yet to be announced.
“This is turning into something much bigger than was originally planned,” said Beavington, who’s touched by the extent of community support.
A corporate sponsor who can help cover the cost of the venue is still being sought.
The silent auction will start at 6 p.m., and musical entertainment at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $30 from the Lacombe Chamber of Commerce or by emailing Beavington at email@example.com.
A trust fund at the Scotia Bank in Lacombe was also set up by Jesse’s grandfather and another aunt.
Cheques can be made out to Leo Ganson and Julie Shipowick in Trust for Jesse Ganson.