What a difference a year can make for Comox’s Gabriel Callicum.
Last year, the École Robb Road student was receiving daily chemotherapy along with visits to St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox and BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver to fight acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer.
One year ago, Callicum smiled in front of his schoolmates as he proudly stood with Tour de Rock riders as they visited his school.
This year, he got to celebrate with a ride to his school in a police cruiser, celebrating being cancer-free.
“He’s doing great; he finished chemotherapy May 18,” said his mom, Jeannine Lindsay. “It’s absolutely amazing how much he’s changed and the effect that chemotherapy has had on his body and spirit.”
Callicum was diagnosed with cancer when he was two-and-a-half years old, and spent the next eight months of his life in hospital in Vancouver, followed by multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy.
He then spent four months in isolation at home in Comox due to a compromised immune system.
“He now has bloodwork done every month, and just in August, he had an operation to have the port in his chest removed,” Lindsay added.
“He received a trophy and award of bravery from his oncologist.”
Lindsay noted on his first day of school, Gabriel was proud to show off his scar to his classmates.
“It’s his signifier he’s done treatment.”
Callicum is also a junior rider in this year’s Canadian Cancer Society Cops For Cancer Tour de Rock. It is one of the reasons why the team is logging 1,000 km from the north end of the Island to the south, raising money to fight childhood cancer.
Since its inception, the Tour has raised nearly $18 million to fund pediatric cancer research and programs, and offers an opportunity for kids and their family to attend Camp Goodtimes — a recreational program in Maple Ridge at no cost to families and participants for children and teens with cancer.
Lindsay said this year’s visit to the camp was much different then their first visit last year.
“We went in mid-July and this year was nice; he was done treatment and he got to really enjoy himself,” she explained.
While at camp, Lindsay added it provided her and Gabriel an opportunity to meet other families just starting or just finishing treatment.
“There were two families who we were familiar with, but there was mostly new faces. We actually met another family from the Valley who has a daughter going through treatment. Since then, we’ve met up and had play dates at the waterpark.”
Lindsay said rather than travelling to Vancouver to see his doctor, she and Gabriel stay on the Island and go to Victoria, with close monitoring for the next four years. She added he will be in close contact with his doctor until he is 18.
For more information or to donate to Tour de Rock, visit www.tourderock.ca.