Bryce’s Story

Our son Bryce is an active, caring and compassionate child who’s always thinking of other people.

He’s played hockey and soccer—Bryce really likes soccer—and he loves our farm animals. We have dogs, kittens, horses and chickens. Bryce also collects seashells from Winnipeg Beach and from Mexico, brought home by his grandparents. He loves living on our acreage near Lake Winnipeg, where he enjoys the beaches and tubing in summer.

Bryce is also a cancer patient.

Our son was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoblastic Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma last February at age nine. We’re writing to tell you his story and ask for your help. You might be curious about how your contribution can help people like Bryce and our family. Your donation will impact families more than you might possibly know.

On that winter day, our family’s world was altered in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

When Bryce was diagnosed, I phoned Garth and told him he needed to come to the hospital in Winnipeg as soon as possible. He later said he looked down at the speedometer and thought, “No matter how fast I drive, it’s not fast enough.”

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Our son Bryce is the last person to complain. He’s a good-natured kid who takes things as they come; he’s a happy guy. So when he told us he was tired and didn’t feel well, that was a flag. Something wasn’t right. We knew we were dealing with more than the flu, but when we got his diagnosis—well, nothing prepares you for that shock.

I remember the ER doctor saying, “You look like a deer in headlights.”

Bryce’s cancer was very advanced, stage IV, due to the proximity of the tumour to his heart. He stayed in intensive care for a week and started treatment immediately. Early on, he had multiple types of chemotherapy each week, plus lumbar punctures. It was a bit of a blur in the early weeks, but we stayed positive as we moved through each day, each week and each treatment. Somehow, we found emotional reserves we didn’t know we had.

We’ve learned how much fighting cancer requires your help.

Your donation can make a huge difference to Bryce and others like him who benefit from the welcoming patient care and breakthroughs in cancer research that are happening right here in Manitoba. Life-changing cancer treatments are funded by people like you.

Your support gives those in treatment a warm environment that feels like home.

In the months following Bryce’s diagnosis, we started coming to CancerCare Manitoba several times a week. We’ve learned that CancerCare is so excellent because of its donors. Your support makes it possible for them to do what they do, including hiring specialists and sending doctors or scientists away for specialized training. Bryce’s oncologist and the nursing team have been amazing. They understand what we’re going through. They’re compassionate, and they know how to make the uncomfortable comfortable—like explaining medical concepts to kids using puppets.

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Bryce’s condition at diagnosis was too dire for him to participate in a clinical trial, but doctors have told us his treatment protocol is based on successful results from previous trials. In fact, we learned that 50 per cent of all pediatric clinical trials are funded by the Foundation. We’re encouraged and reassured by this, knowing the treatment he’s receiving gives him the best chance for a positive outcome. I can’t say this plainly enough: your donation increases his odds for a healthy future.

Our experience has humbled us and taught us what is most important.

After three months, Bryce started to feel better. We were relieved beyond words. His treatment will carry on until 2018, and our plan is to stay focused on the positive and remain confident that he’ll be okay.

Bryce’s diagnosis has renewed our focus on what is really important in life: family, friends and support. Bryce’s brother Cade (11) and sister Vilena (7) are so supportive — their concern and love for him is plain to see.

Hope is the greatest possible gift at this time of year.

We’re convinced the quality of care that Bryce receives is a direct result of donations like yours, which fund new cancer research and treatments. We’re impressed with how far cancer care has come in recent years, but we also know the cost is significant.

So now you’ve learned a little more about how your donation affects people like Bryce and our family. We’ve had a comfortable place to go during his treatment. We’ve had access to leading-edge treatments based on successful results of clinical trials. Bryce has had superior medical care. And most of all, you’ve given us hope—that we can enjoy more tomorrows together.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your contribution. As someone who supports CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, you are making an important commitment to cancer patients in Manitoba like our son Bryce.

Your generosity right now will make a world of difference. The Foundation can continue to make great things happen with the generous support of people like you. Every donation matters, because for us, every day counts.

Heidi & Garth Helstrom

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