First, 8-year-old Connor had frequent eye blinking. Then came the double vision. It was clear to Lee-Ann and Darren that there was a problem with their son’s eyesight. They made a few trips to the optometrist and Connor was fitted for a new pair of glasses—but there was no improvement.
They were eventually referred to an ophthalmologist, who sent Connor for a CT scan at Kelowna General Hospital. Not thinking it was cause for too much worry, the family packed for their ski trip to Big White the next day. Hours later, they were told the devastating news: Connor had a tumour in his head.
“They told us to go home, pack for six weeks, and that we would be flying to Vancouver the next day,” recalled Lee-Ann. “Your life literally changes in an instant.”
Shortly after arriving at BC Children’s, a neurosurgeon performed a craniotomy on Connor. After a long few days of waiting, they learned that Connor had medulloblastoma, a cancer of the brain cerebellum—the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination.
Connor started what would be 31 rounds of intense radiation to his brain and spine over six weeks. After a break and respite back in the Okanagan, they returned for his maintenance phase: another six months of chemotherapy.
The pain of separation from Darren and Connor’s older brother Aiden was intense for the pair. Still, they concede that throughout their journey there have been many rewarding moments as well—from meeting amazing families and hospital staff to taking part in events and activities, like trick-or-treating on Halloween.
“You get to love your doctors and nurses, but when we see the people from Child Life, they always have smiles for us. They want to help Connor pass the time through his treatments and appointments with games and activities.” — Lee-Ann, Connor’s Mom
After ten months of treatment and more than two dozen blood transfusions, Connor is in remission and now visits BC Children’s follow-up appointments. While he is still dealing with side effects from the tumour—such as hearing loss—he is been able to return to his favourite activities, like a ski trip to Big White.
“A year later, we got up there to ski and Connor’s endurance was back,” Darren said. “It was amazing.”