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Winning the Fight

Daffodil Day on April 27 is a special day to reflect, help and show support for those living with cancer

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There was some debate about starting the treatment immediately. In the end, however, it was decided it would be best if the family could get back to Vancouver — not quite home but close enough.

Nick flew back with his mom, while Bill drove the truck back to Canada with Zander and another family friend — an impossibly long journey until he was with his sick son again.

As soon as Nick landed in Vancouver he was whisked straight to BC Children's Hospital. Chemotherapy began in the days that followed.

Nick had T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with Ambiguous Lineage.

"He was classified as a very high risk," says Bill.

In those early weeks the doctors tried to put the cancer into remission.

They almost managed — but not quite.

Nick would need a bone marrow transplant.

No one in the family was a match, but a 24-year-old man somewhere in North America was.

Was he still willing to give his bone marrow? Did he have time to do it?

He did.

Nick was blasted again with chemotherapy and total body irradiation leading up to the transplant as the doctors tried to get rid of the cancer.

Day Zero dawned. August 9 — a Tuesday. A small plastic bag of what looked like just watered down blood was put into Nick over about an hour — 90 millilitres of bone marrow.

Life. Hope. A Future.

He battled it alone in an eight by 10 square foot room, specially ventilated and pressurized, his parents at his side.

"The first two weeks is beyond description," says Bill of last August.

Those words hang in space.

How can a dad talk about what it's like to see his son in agony over days, vomiting every 45 minutes as his ravaged body worked on the transplant?

Nick couldn't talk, couldn't eat, barely drank, hallucinated.

Fortunately he doesn't remember the details; Lisa and Bill will likely never forget them.

Around him more than a dozen plastic bags fed various things into his body through a central catheter in his chest — food, liquid, morphine, anti-nausea meds, anti bacterial drugs.

The minutes, the hours, the days ticked by.

It was working. Thirty-one days later Nick was allowed to come back to Whistler, not out of the woods, but well enough to come home.

Keith's story

Keith Mellor is reticent to share his story.

"It's not that fabulous, really," he shrugs in his neat, dark-blue firefighter's uniform.

"I kind of feel like a cheater almost. I got off lucky...I know other people in my family, other people, period, who had much harder go's and my heart goes out to them. Because nobody has a choice..."

Fourteen years ago the career firefighter didn't have a choice either.

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