‘I fight for my son every day’
Thorold fire department car wash on Saturday to benefit Adam’s cancer fight
Full meals are dropped off at their house.
A complete stranger paid their restaurant dinner bill.
The Niagara IceDogs treat them like family.
Some 40 people shaved their heads bald in honour of their eight-year-old son.
Every Wednesday his elementary school floods the hallways with blue. Students, teachers and staff wear royal blue Team Egerter T-shirts and bracelets specially made to support the family. And more.
And at the centre of it all is eight-year-old Adam Egerter.
Adam has brain cancer. Medulloblastoma. A tumour larger than a big grape was removed from the lower back part of his head in March. He finished seven weeks of 31 radiation treatments, plus a once-a-week chemotherapy trial, last Friday.
And this week, he returned to his Grade 3 class at Richmond Street Public School.
Sometime soon, he will begin six months of chemotherapy. Once every month, he will spend at least three days at the Juravinski Cancer Centre, as he receives a chemotherapy drug through an IV line.
And his family is thankful — as overwhelmingly appreciative as the community is supportive.
“When people you don’t know help you, it’s overwhelming,” says dad Jay Egerter.
On Saturday, the Thorold fire department is organizing a fundraising car wash for the family. The event runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Richmond Street Public School, and includes a barbecue, fire trucks and the requisite appearance by Sparky the fire dog.
“It’s a family event for us,” says Brian Dickson, Thorold fire chief.
“If one of us hurts we’re going to rally around them no matter what.”
Jay has been a volunteer firefighter at Thorold Station 4 for 19 years. He can see the hall on Highway 20 from his house and he’s usually the first to arrive, and most often drives the pumper, when his emergency pager goes off.
Firefighters at Station 4 are especially close. Many are relatives whose families have farmed the neighbouring lands for generations.
“We’re there for our community,” says Jay. “To serve and protect our friends and neighbours.”
When Adam finished treatment on Friday, some 50 firefighters, friends, family and supporters were at the Egerter house to celebrate. They gather to mark the birthdays of each other’s kids, and other events. That’s just the way it works.
Jay drives a city bus for St. Catharines. Tanya is a caretaker for District School Board of Niagara, based at Eastdale Secondary School in Welland. Both have been off work since earlier this year.
Last fall, a few odd, uncharacteristic events caused Adam’s parents, and then doctors, to be concerned. Adam had a headache at school and felt tingling on his left side. He was taken to hospital by ambulance. A few days later, he walked into a bedroom door and told his mom he didn’t see it. And right before a St. Catharines CYO Minor Hockey game, his head hurt so much it made him cry. The right side of his body tingled from head to toe.
Several tests, MRIs and a CT scan later, he ended up in the operating room at McMaster Children’s Hospital, where as much of the tumour as possible was removed and biopsied.
The diagnosis of brain cancer came in March, after the Family Day weekend.
Making life easier, is a supportive community. Random and planned acts of kindness.
When they told Adam’s hockey coach, Jim Schreiber, that their son couldn’t finish the season, he found them some fun opportunities with the Niagara IceDogs. Adam dropped the puck at centre ice during a playoff game, and him and his 11-year-old brother, Christopher, were given hockey sticks autographed by their favourite players. The family had a standing invitation into the press box by CKTB’s Ted Lehman. The play-by-play announcer visited Adam in his dressing room after his final game, and presented him with a signed IceDogs jersey.
One night, they were having dinner at The Overtime Pub in Thorold when a woman recognized them from social media posts, and paid for their meal. Its owners also send food their way.
Students at Adam’s school were given blue bracelets to wear. Words on the outside read: No one fights alone #teamegerter.
Friends set up the GoFundMe page Help Adam Fight Cancer and a crowd sourcing schedule on Mealtrain.com to organize homemade meals.
All for one little boy who has a big fight.
On the back of Jay’s T-shirt, are the words he lives by: I don’t run. I don’t walk. I fight for my son every day.
Eight-year-old Adam Egerter gets ready for a car wash and barbecue on Saturday. The Thorold fire department is organizing the fundraiser at Richmond Street public School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adam is fighting brain cancer. His dad, Jay, is a volunteer firefighter at Station 4.
Adam's dad, Jay, wears a T-shirt in honour of his son who is fighting brain cancer.