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Cancer's return cruel blow for family

Posted on 11/06/2009 12:00am

Cancer's return cruel blow for family
Jack Knox, Times Colonist
Published: Thursday, June 11, 2009

This was going to be an upbeat column, about how my 10-year-old friend Jordan Hopkins, having won his battle with cancer, will lead his second annual fundraising bike ride in Saanich next week.

And that part is true. Jordan's Family Fun Ride goes Saturday, June 20, from Lochside Elementary School.

But then came word of another local family dealing with a bitter truth: The only thing more unfair, more unjust, than childhood cancer is childhood cancer that, having been beaten once, returns.

Jaimey Hamilton was just five years old when, in April 2005, she was diagnosed with leukemia. As you might expect, it gutted the Metchosin family.

As Jaimey went through treatment, her mother, Heather Hamilton, would deal with her anger by lacing up a pair of boxing gloves and pounding on a heavy bag.

In fact, Heather, who is an artist, painted a picture of those gloves, a work entitled Beat It.

Jaimey made it through her struggle with the disease, through the needles and chemo and pain. She blossomed into a vivacious little girl, one who loved animals, who ran like the wind on the soccer field, blond hair flying behind her.

But then, after almost four years in remission, came the dreadful news. The cancer is back. The fight is on again. This is cruel beyond belief, the nightmare that lurks in the back of the mind of any parent, any child who has been through this once already.

Friends have rallied around the family. Beat It, the boxing glove painting, was bought by Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders, who then donated it to a silent art auction being held in support of the Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life. (The 12-hour relay begins at 7 p.m. Friday at the Juan de Fuca rec centre, with teams of 10 to 12 entrants taking turns running or walking around a track. For details visit www.cancer.ca/relay.)

The silent auction begins today and continues until June 30 at the Coast Collective Art Centre at 3221 Heatherbell Rd., in the Essencia project at the Esquimalt Lagoon.

Beat It and other works can be seen there Thursdays through Sundays, noon to 5. Call 250-391-5522 for information.

In addition, a sports day and community picnic will be held from noon to 5 p.m. this Sunday on the shore of Esquimalt Lagoon.

It's advertised as a casual event at which you can challenge members of local sport teams to a pick-up game of bocce, volleyball, soccer, whatever. Again, proceeds go to the Relay for Life.

Then there's Jordan's Family Fun Ride.

I got to know Jordan a couple of years ago through another Canadian Cancer Society event, the Cops For Cancer Tour de Rock, where he was -- and is -- one of the junior riders, the name given to kids with a history of cancer.

He was just two when diagnosed with a form of cancer called neuroblastoma. Given a one-in-five chance of survival, he beat the odds, though the chemotherapy left him with hearing loss, thin hair and damage to his heart and the nerves of one leg.

But that didn't stop him, like Jaimey, from developing a love of sport; he competes in soccer and baseball, swims and has done youth triathlons.

The family -- Jordan, mum Lisa, dad Derek, sister Jessica -- is inviting the public to join them in a five-kilometre bike ride June 20, starting at 10 a.m. at Lochside Elementary. Proceeds go through the B.C. Children's Hospital foundation to a promising development in neuroblastoma research.

For every $50 participants raise, they get entered in a draw for a bike donated by the Trek Bicycle Store.

It's a good event and a worthwhile cause -- but lord it makes you wonder why this fight is necessary, why capricious fate should decide that children like Jordan and Jaimey should be struck this way while your kid and mine go unscathed.

Late in life, my dad became an Anglican minister and spent a lot of time in hospital with grief-stricken families.

They would ask: "How could God let this happen to my child?"

All my dad could do was answer honestly: "I don't know."

He kept his faith, but didn't pretend to have the answers.

And that's all we can do in the face of inexplicable reality: Keep faith, keep looking for answers.

jknox@tc.canwest.com

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2009