Julia was our little sister. We were six and four years old, so we were quite a bit older than her. We also have an older sister, so we are all fairly spread out. She was the baby of the family. She was a little bit stubborn, a little bit bossy (actually, a lot bossy). But she was awesome. She was always open to anything – if we went to play hockey, she’d come too. She was just like that.
Taylor was diagnosed with leukemia the year she was supposed to start grade one. She spent two and a half grueling years on treatment. Her story is one of many shared on special dedication boards at registration for Tour for Kids Alberta, a three-day cycling adventure through the Canadian Rockies, where participants fundraise to ride, with all proceeds to Kids Cancer Care.
Our cancer journey began like many families whose children are diagnosed with leukemia – with symptoms and signs that we initially discounted as common, normal ailments of childhood. There were no red flags, no reason for cancer to even be a blip on our mind. But looking back now, we can pinpoint the start of Foster’s cancer journey.
Like all great western tales, it began with a wager at a local watering hole. A leather-clad biker anmed Dirtdog bet a good ol’ cowboy that he could raise more money by bartending. The cowboy took the bet and the challenge was on. That first weekend the cowboy and his friends tended bar and the weekend after, the biker and his crew.
Our son Ryan was almost two, when he was diagnosed with a brain stem cancer. This is the worst possible place for a tumour and it was inoperable. After meeting with his oncologist, Paul and I learned that Ryan had only weeks to live.
They called him the Polish Prince at the hospital and, with a name like Zukowski, it’s not hard to imagine why. But Joel’s nickname originated from something more profound than a surname. The nurses and doctors called him the Polish Prince because, for a 10-year-old boy, Joel exhibited uncommon valor in the face of cancer.