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Coleman's wish

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

Coleman Braid made a wish and on Wednesday night, it’ll come true.

Unlike the millions of Canucks fans who merely wished to see Vancouver compete in the Stanley Cup Final, Coleman’s wish was to be at a game surrounded by the friends who are helping him battle leukemia.

Thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation and the Canucks, Coleman and 11 friends will attend Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final as per his wish, granted to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Coleman is 17-years-old and in January of this year, he was your average 17-year-old. A student at Oak Bay High School in Victoria, BC, Coleman had above average grades and played scrum-half for the Oak Bay Barbarians rugby team.

A month later and, as his father Tony puts it, “all hell broke loose.”

Coleman was having trouble breathing and doctors sent him for a chest x-ray thinking it was pneumonia. The results showed a lymph node, so blood work was ordered. Next thing Coleman and Tony knew, they were in a helicopter on their way to Vancouver.

For the better part of a month Coleman was being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in BC Children's Hospital, which is where he heard of the Make A Wish Foundation.

At first Coleman thought being flown out to Queen Charlotte Islands would be great, he loves hiking and there are trails galore to be explored there. Then Coleman, who has lost all of his hair and 25 per cent of his body weight, remembered all the support he’s received from his closest friends and he knew this would be a great way to say thanks.

“I wanted to be able to share my wish with my friends as much as I could,” said Coleman. “They’ve all been really supportive. When I first got sick they all made me a massive card with a bunch of photos in it from all of high school and everybody signed it and I had plenty of visitors in the hospital and while I was in Vancouver.

“They were all pretty shook up about it, but they’ve been helping out as much as they can and I really appreciate it.”

Believe it or not, Coleman actually had a difficult time deciding whom to bring to the game with him because of the worst scheduling conflict of all-time. The Oak Bay Barbarians are currently competing at the 2011 British Columbia Secondary Schools' Provincial Rugby Championship with a game set for Wednesday, meaning most of his best mates are unavailable.

Coleman still had plenty of other friends to invite and his brother, Connor, will also be with him for the game.

Thanks to a mandate from the Make A Wish Foundation that a legal guardian must attend, his dad Tony made the cut as well.

Father and son are both excited for the game, but for different reasons.

Coleman, who had his chemotherapy re-worked so he’ll have good days leading up to and on game day, is ecstatic he gets to watch the Canucks play while in the presence of close friends.

Tony is simply happy his son is happy.

“He’s pretty much had a hole kick in the middle of his life,” said Tony. “The prognosis for his illness is very good, but it’s going to take a few years of chemotherapy to make sure they get it all.

“Cole is on a very difficult journey and anything that distracts him from that is okay with me. He’s pretty excited about this, we all are.”

“Stoked” is the word Coleman used and he should be, not many people get the chance to see a Stanley Cup Final game, let alone with 11 friends.

Then again, not many people have the ability to beat leukemia the way Coleman is.

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