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Hockey Fights Cancer brightens days for families affected by cancer

"When Sam likes something, he doesn't just like it, he's obsessed."

by CancerCare Manitoba Foundation

Sam is a spunky four-year-old who loves trains and volcanoes. 

"When Sam likes something, he doesn't just like it, he's obsessed," shared his mom Lisa. 

This adorable four year's old life has been fraught with uncertainty and challenging times.

During Lisa's pregnancy an ultrasound exposed a worrisome road ahead. Sam had a congenital heart condition. In the first eighteen months of his life, he underwent three surgeries including two open heart surgeries. 

It was an overwhelming time for the family.  

Relieved that needles and surgeries were over until school age, they moved forward. Then a fall off a swing buckled their knees. 

"He had fallen off the swing and cried uncontrollably. He just wanted to go to sleep," recalls his mom Lisa.  

Days before this happened, he complained of body aches. The fall prompted Lisa to call the pediatrician, but they couldn't get in. Sam was whisked away to emergency. 

After months of tests, doctors found a 13-centimetre mass splitting Sam's left kidney.

It resembled a Wilms tumour - a rare kidney cancer found in children. Sam required another surgery. Expected to take a few hours, the surgery turned into nine tense hours. 

"They needed to remove his kidney and spleen," Lisa explained. 

The surgery revealed more dire results than anticipated. In December 2017, Sam was diagnosed with MYCN-amplified Neuroblastoma.  

During the next seven months, Sam endured six rounds of high-dose chemotherapy, required oxygen, underwent a stem cell transplant, spent 72 days in hospital, and due to a complication, required a surgery that threatened his life. 

They are now 'choo-chooing' upward.

Sam (aka CN) doesn't want to be the conducting engineer though. He is the train! And boy does he believe it.  

At follow-up appointments nurses 'check his oil' while he watches the needle slowly narrow in to draw blood. "Trains don't feel anything," said Sam.  

While still requiring oxygen and steroids, Sam is showing tremendous strength and a wild, hilarious personality. This gives his parents hope. 

"When your kid is sick, and you are sitting in a hospital bed, the support is what you need to get through. This just means everything. The Jets using their platform to raise money for pediatric cancer, we just can't thank them enough," expressed Lisa and her husband Garth.

Treatment plans for Sam and other children like him are based on research and clinical trials which are funded in large part by CancerCare Manitoba Foundation. Thanks to the amazing generosity and kindness of Hockey Fights Cancer supporters all these years, trials are available in Manitoba for children with cancer.

This November marks the Winnipeg Jets' eighth Hockey Fights Cancer campaign. Fans have generously raised $765,000 over the past seven years to help local kids, just like Sam, receive care in Manitoba. Fans can join the fight at the Jets' Hockey Fights Cancer game on Saturday Nov. 23. Tickets at WinnipegJets.com/TICKETS and for more information on fundraising opportunities, visit WinnipegJets.com/HFC.

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