Community rallies around sick toddler, family

FRIENDS OF a little boy recently diagnosed with leukemia are rallying to help with several fundraisers for him and his family.

JACK ARMSTRONG was diagnosed with leukemia just after his third birthday this year.

FRIENDS OF a little boy recently diagnosed with leukemia are rallying to help with several fundraisers for him and his family.

Jack Armstrong, 3, was diagnosed with the most common type of leukemia in children, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Feb. 29, just eight days after his birthday, says his mom Taryn.

Jack is taking chemotherapy and his life right now is going to hospital for treatment and back to where they’re staying.

“He wants to go home. He wants his regular routine but he’s still pretty tired so he does not want to do too, too much,” says Taryn, adding he’s doing pretty well.

Jack, his mom and dad, Lance, are staying at Helen’s Place in Vancouver and their first 30 days are paid for – they’re on the waiting list to stay in Ronald McDonald House or the Easter Seals House, both of which are full, she says.

About three weeks before his parents took him to the doctor, his symptoms were that he was lethargic, he bruised easily, lost his appetite and had little red dots all over his body, says Taryn.

Dr. Strydom did tests and diagnosed him within hours, says Taryn.

They expect to be in Vancouver for six to 10 months for Jack’s treatment and then to have monthly visits with doctors in Vancouver  for the second year of the three-year treatment, she says.

Jack was due for his second spinal tap March 8, which Taryn said she believed was to insert the chemotherapy directly into his spinal fluid, she says.

Some spinal fluid was removed to check that the leukemia wasn’t in his spinal fluid, says Taryn.

At the end of this month, doctors will do that procedure again.

“Hopefully, it’ll be showing that it’s clear at that time and then he just continues with treatment for the next two years to ensure there’s nothing hiding around,” says Taryn.

Financially, it’s a difficult time for the family with a residence and life here and being down south too.

“I’m 12 weeks pregnant so I’m having to juggle that as well and my husband will have to leave soon to find work or go back to work so we’re down here for an indefinite time right now,” says Taryn.

A social worker was able to help them out with the first month with medication and Pharmacare covers 75 per cent of the cost after a certain deductible, says Taryn.

But they’re not alone; their friends organized several fundraisers to help with their costs.

There are jars with a photo of Jack on them at various businesses in town.

A benefit dance aptly named “Jackstock,” is planned for the end of the month.

A family friend and photographer is holding photo sessions for parents to get pictures taken of their children.

Peaks Gymnastics Club, of which Jack is a member, is planning an event and Jack’s brother Trent, 11, is also helping out.

“We’re just overwhelmed with the support of the whole community. As soon as it happened, they got together and started. It’s very thoughtful,” says Taryn, adding the family is still in shock about Jack’s diagnosis.

“We’re just taking it day by day.”

For more on Jackstock, see City Scene under Fundraisers on page 21. And watch that section for more information about upcoming fundraising events as details become available.