Joel had been experiencing excruciating headaches that would wake him up in the morning. The day the family learned it was due to a brain tumour was “emotional and heart wrenching,” says his mom, Marla. “We couldn’t believe what we were hearing, and our whole world came to a screeching halt.”
The day Joel had surgery to remove the tumour was “the longest day of our lives,” she says. “Time seemed to stand still while we waited for the neurosurgeon to come tell us that the surgery was a success.” About six weeks after surgery, Joel began radiation before three types of intense chemotherapy that had him admitted into the hospital for one week at a time.
“The hardest part is watching your child go through it and not being able to take away any of the nausea, pain, lack of appetite, and low blood counts,” says Marla. “All you can do is hold them, be there with them, and love them. As parents you feel helpless—and it was also difficult for us leaving Joel’s sister at home with family while we spent days in the hospital.”
This isn’t Joel’s first fight. He was born early at just 4lbs and caught RSV at one month old. “He has overcome many obstacles in life,” says Marla. “And to this day, there is no way we can repay all of those who have supported us—family and friends, Joel’s hockey community, and complete strangers who just reached out.”
Marla says the further they found themselves in the world of childhood cancer, the more they learned about foundations like Childhood Cancer Canada that support awareness, research, and funding. “Thank you to everyone for helping children like Joel and their families who are impacted by childhood cancer.”
Today, although Joel's life has forever changed, he remains unbroken—a testament to the power of love, faith, and the resilience of the human spirit.
Each month, Childhood Cancer Canada honours a hero. If you would like to share your hero's story, please reach out to [email protected].