Conner’s Dream – October 18, 2013

by: Jenna Thistle

Four-year-old Conner was an outgoing kid with a giant sense of humour. He loved cars, trucks, trains and bikes. He liked to play outside and watch Bob the Builder inside. As the summer of 2010 came to a close, Conner had caught what seemed like a cold. He became tired, presented with a fever, had terrible night sweats and began to lose weight. However, this cold was a peculiar one, lasting 2-3 months and presenting different symptoms at different times. Ann Marie, Conner’s mother, had taken him to two separate doctors but the visits had determined it was simply a persistent cold or an ear infection. Trusting that the diagnosis had been correct, Conner and his family went on their scheduled vacation to Ontario. Upon returning to Labrador City, Ann Marie had noticed some bruising had appeared with all the other symptoms and felt concerned. The next day she took Conner to the emergency room at the hospital to figure out what was really going on.

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Conner’s visit to the ER changed their lives forever. After a physical and some bloodwork, Conner was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, better known as ALL. Before they had time to process what had happened, the family was sent home to pack their bags to be medevaced to the Janeway in St. John’s. They had two hours to pack for 6 months away from home. Having only just returned from their vacation in Ontario, Ann Marie was grateful she hadn’t unpacked. She was able to gather the packed suitcases quickly and get right onto the plane. Not only were they faced with the devastating news that their young son had Leukemia but they were also being ripped away from their support team of family and friends in Labrador City and sent hundreds of kilometres away.

On October 18th, 2010, only three days after being diagnosed with ALL, Conner began chemotherapy at the Janeway. He received chemotherapy orally, via his port-a-Cath, via Lumbar Punctures as well as through needles in his legs. There would be days when Conner would take 5 different chemo treatments. His first stay lasted 18 days but once he was released they were still attending appointments upwards of 5 days a week. Conner and his family remained in St. John’s for a total of 10 months, which was much longer than they had originally planned. In August of 2011, after returning home, they had hoped they would be in the clear. Unfortunately, Conner had to be medevaced back to the capital city on three separate occasions over the following 2.5 years.

During their stay at the hospital, Ann Marie and Conner had come across a teenage girl during her dream presentation inside the Janeway Playroom. They inquired with one of The Dream Fund’s members about how the charity worked and how they could apply. They were in awe of the wonderful things The Dream Fund did for these children. These gifts had the ability to boost a bad day and give the kids something to look forward to. Ann Marie got the ball rolling and applied for Conner’s dream.

On the 18th of October, 2013, William and Josh, two members of The Dream Fund travelled to Labrador City to make Conner’s dream come true. The presentation was a huge success. Conner was in unbelievably high spirits as the community rallied around him during this exciting time. Conner’s classmates, friends and family all gathered and were joined by the local fire department with their mascot, Sparky, as well as the Town of Labrador City’s mascot, Chill. Conner was full of excitement as he opened his new iPad and his remote control car. Conner’s family was overjoyed by the incredible event. Sometimes the smallest things have the biggest impacts in life.