One Sylvan Lake family is grateful and humbled for the help, support and prayers they have received in a difficult time.
In 2017 Zane Baker was diagnosed with a brain tumour. One year later he under went surgery to remove 90 per cent of the tumour, later discovering it to be a Grade 2 left frontal lobe Oligodendroglioma.
According to Zane’s mother Leigh Baker, being categorized at a Grade 2 meant the tumour was slow moving, but could at any time become more aggressive.
Now Zane and Leigh are preparing to move to Jacksonville, FL, to receive proton therapy.
“Proton therapy is less harmful, has less effect to cognitive function and has less side effects than photon therapy, which is what is used in Canada,” Leigh explained.
Proton therapy will target the tumour in the brain more directly with less potential damage to the heathy brain around it.
However, to receive this treatment Zane has to travel out of country, but first had to gain approval through doctors at Cross Cancer Centre. This process began in February of this year.
“We got the call on May 9 that we were approved, and on the 14th we got another call saying they wanted to arrange travel,” said Leigh, adding she will be moving to Florida with her son for the summer at the end of May.
The Alberta government is footing the medical and travel expenses for Zane to receive this treatment, however there are many more costs associated.
While Leigh is staying with Zane, her husband Bert will be remaining in Sylvan Lake with their three other children, with plans to visit once the school year is over.
Zane wants to keep his apartment in Edmonton while in Florida because it is a simple 10 minute walk to MacEwan University, where he has just been accepted into the performance track for his drumming.
“We want to keep his apartment because when we comes home he will begin to undergo chemotherapy, and if he feels sick at school or something as a result it isn’t far for him to get home,” Leigh explained.
Leigh’s sister Jenny Magnuson started a Go Fund Me page with the intent to help the family while they were temporarily separated.
She says the money from the campaign will go towards flights for the family, lodging, food and a car to travel to appointments.
“Since this all began so many people have wanted to help, to give to our family in some way, but at the time there was no immediate need,” said Magnuson.
“We started the campaign to give those who wanted to help an outlet to do so, and help alleviate an immediate need.”
As of publishing, the campaign has raised $11,000 out of the $15,000 goal.
“It has been just incredible to see the support our community has given us,” said Magnuson. “We feel so blessed.”
For Zane and Leigh it has been a humbling experience to go through.
Zane told his mother he is so grateful to those who have wished him well or wanted to help in anyway.
“It is hard to put into words how much this means,” Leigh said for her son.
The family says they have felt unconditional love from the community, and it is coming from some they don’t even know.
Leigh said she has heard from other across the country who are praying for her son and her family.
“A woman in Georgia, whom I have never met, reached out to help arrange an apartment for us,” said Leigh.
She said to have people praying for them has meant the world, as the family has a very strong faith.
“There is so much power in it, that people are praying for him… it is overwhelming,” said Leigh.
Once treatment is done, which is expected to be done by the middle of August, Zane and his family will return to Alberta, where he will return to school while undergoing chemotherapy for the next year.
Leigh said he is already looking to the future, and is planning to go on a semester abroad once he is finished treatment.
“This, the prayers and the support, is giving him hope and a future, and we are so grateful,” Leigh said, adding her family plans to pay back the generosity they have experienced in some way.
Those looking to donate to the Go Fund Me campaign can do so at www.gofundme.com/support-for-zane-baker