Over­whelm­ing news

Pinette mother talks about how life has changed in just three weeks since her young son’s leukemia di­ag­no­sis

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STE­WART

A Pinette mother says her fam­ily’s world was turned up­side down on New Year’s Eve. Kyla Thom­son’s eight-year-old son, Cal­lum, de­vel­oped a nose bleed that af­ter­noon, but this wasn’t just any nose bleed.

It was pour­ing out of him, and there was noth­ing his par­ents, Kyla and Brian, could do to stop it.

Cal­lum’s par­ents took him to the emer­gency room at the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal in Char­lot­te­town.

By this point, Cal­lum was throw­ing up blood, too.

They got right in to see a doc­tor.

Five hours later came the news — Cal­lum had acute promye­lo­cytic (APL) leukemia.

“It was one of those times when you hear the worst news, what no­body wants to hear,’’ Kyla Thom­son said in an in­ter­view Wed­nes­day from the IWK Health Cen­tre in Hal­i­fax where Cal­lum is un­der­go­ing treat­ment.

“I feel like we’re liv­ing in a dream; like it’s not real.’’

Kyla, a mother of three chil­dren, didn’t have a lot of time to process what was hap­pen­ing.

She raced home to pack a bag. An am­bu­lance was set to take them to the IWK a few hours later.

“As soon as (the doc­tor) said the blood test came back (show­ing) low platelets . . . you get that gut feel­ing. Nei­ther of us said any­thing,’’ Kyla said, re­fer­ring to her and Brian.

“We were both think­ing they were test­ing for leukemia.’’

Word spread through east­ern P.E.I. like wild­fire. Kyla used to work at Cooper’s Red & White in El­don and, like most par­ents, she de­vel­oped a lot of friend­ships through Cal­lum’s hockey and base­ball teams.

Cal­lum will spend the next nine months get­ting treat­ment in Hal­i­fax putting an ob­vi­ous fi­nan­cial strain on the fam­ily. The young­ster won’t have to live at the IWK all the time, but he is re­quired to stay in the city. Kyla says they’ll likely stay at the Ron­ald McDon­ald House in Hal­i­fax, a na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides homes near med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties for se­ri­ously ill chil­dren.

A num­ber of peo­ple jumped in to help. A ben­e­fit con­cert at Belfast Con­sol­i­dated School has been sched­uled for Sun­day, Jan. 31, 2 p.m., with a lineup that in­cludes Eddy Quinn, Ken­dall Docherty and Kel­ley Mooney.

Amanda MacTav­ish, one of the or­ga­niz­ers, said ev­ery­one had the same mind­set — what can we do?

“It has been over­whelm­ing,’’ MacTav­ish said of the of­fers to help, not­ing that mu­si­cians have been call­ing her to ask if they could play at the ben­e­fit.

“I never imag­ined it would be as big as it was. I can’t imag­ine how over­whelmed Kyla must feel if we’re feel­ing like this.’’

Mi­randa McKenna, who helped set up an on­line auc­tion (www.go­calgo.com), said it’s amaz­ing how peo­ple have ral­lied for Cal­lum.

“It helps so­lid­ify my be­lief there is good in the world,’’ McKenna said. “I can’t be­gin to imag­ine what this fam­ily is go­ing through, but at least they know they are not go­ing through it alone.’’

Kyla said the prog­no­sis for Cal­lum is good. APL leukemia is con­sid­ered one of the most treat­able forms of leukemia.

Kyla strug­gles to find the words to de­scribe what the com­mu­nity sup­port has meant.

“It is so hard to . . .,’’ she says, search­ing for the right words. “Thank you does not seem like enough. It has taken such a stress off. We are just so grate­ful and over­whelmed.’’


Eight-year-old Cal­lum Thom­son of Pinette was di­ag­nosed with APL leukemia on New Year’s Eve af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a nose bleed that just kept get­ting worse. Cal­lum has be­gun nine months of treat­ment at the IWK Health Cen­tre in Hal­i­fax. A num­ber of ini­tia­tives have taken place in Belfast to help the fam­ily with money. A ben­e­fit con­cert goes Sun­day, Jan. 31, at 2 p.m. at Belfast Con­sol­i­dated School while an on­line auc­tion is un­der­way at www.go­calgo.com.


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