The enthusiasm you sense from 17-year-old Nolan McLeod isn’t one of a typical teenager. He’s all business: eager to work at a part-time job, excited to do public speaking and, according to his mother, quite adept at managing his own schedule.
Some of these traits could be attributed to the fact that at age 13, Nolan was forced to face his own mortality.
Nolan was on antibiotics for what his local physician thought was strep throat, but he felt an overwhelming lethargy that was unusual for that condition. His parents became even more concerned after Nolan passed out while mowing a neighbour’s lawn; they also found mysterious bruises. Nolan’s father, Chad, did a quick online search that returned a worrisome possibility: leukemia. Chad immediately put Nolan in the car, and they headed straight to the Emergency Department at BC Children’s Hospital.
The team at BC Children’s confirmed through blood tests that Nolan did in fact have acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Nolan underwent several weeks of chemotherapy and radiation to rid his body of leukemic cells. The treatment meant that Nolan would miss several weeks of school. Ultimately, he missed most of his Grade 8 year.
After three-and-a-half years, Nolan’s treatment wrapped up, and he was able to return to being a more typical teen.
Today, Nolan is healthy, back in school full time, and enjoying his part-time job at a local organic grocer. His health is robust, and then some: he’s ready to run a five-kilometre run, as an ambassador for the 2016 RBC Run for the Kids June 5.
When she looks back at those tough years, Nolan’s mother, Elissa, recalls the comfort she and her entire family felt in their first few days of meetings with BC Children’s Oncology team.
“As a family we were completely included in the process of Nolan’s treatment plan, and the care provided was quite exceptional,” says Elissa. “They reassured us, and helped to manage our lives with Nolan being the oldest of our four children. It was as if they wrapped us in a warm blanket and took care of us all.”