The Sylvan Lake community has shown their support of a local family in a big way.
This summer the Bellavance family has been going through a difficult time as their three-year-old son, Blake, undergoes treatment and surgery for a brain tumour.
When the family found out young Blake would undergo surgery on July 19 to remove the tumour his aunt, Jennifer Moborg, set up a GoFundMe campaign which has surpassed all expectations.
“I set it up that day… It was something I could do to help, because I knew they would never just accept it if I gave them, say, $500,” said Moborg.
Moborg set the campaign with a goal of $5,000 hoping whatever raised will help the family in some way in a very difficult time.
“My thought was maybe they won’t have to worry about their mortgage payment for a month or something,” she said.
As of publishing, the campaign has raised more than $19,000 for the family.
Moborg said she is overwhelmed and very thankful for the support given to the family, not just from the campaign but from those in the community as well.
“It isn’t just money either. Blake has been put on the prayer list at different churches in Sylvan Lake… It seems to be working.”
On Aug. 9, the family received a bit of good news. After performing an exam on Blake, the doctors have discovered the tumour has not grown or spread to his spine.
Following the July 19 surgery, oncologists say there is five to 10 per cent of the tumour left that will need to be removed through a different procedure.
Currently the family is exploring their options between staying in Canada for photon therapy or travelling to Florida for proton therapy.
“The benefit of proton therapy is that it only damages the tumour and not the surrounding tissue,” said Moborg, adding young patients often are able to bounce back better from photon therapy than adults.
“It is an expensive procedure… The therapy alone costs around $100,000, but parents will do whatever it takes for their kids.”
While exploring their options, Moborg says the family is unsure what sort of funding will be made available for them through the government. That is one reason why Moborg is grateful for the community’s support.
“A group of moms from Blake’s day home took it upon themselves to set up a silent auction, and it was just amazing,” she said.
The Brave Like Blake silent auction raised roughly $25,000 for the family.
Made up of almost entirely local contributions, the Brave like Blake silent auction ran from Aug 6-9.
“I think people just want to help… It’s hard because he is three and when something like this happens at that age people want answers. Why did it happen? But there are no answers.”
Should the Bellavance’s choose to go to Florida, Blake will undergo treatment five days a week for six weeks.
His aunt says he is a happy guy and the surgery and tumour has not affected his or his family’s outlook.
“It has been a roller coaster… and he still has a long way to go. He doesn’t even know about the scar [from surgery] all he knows is that his head feels better,” said Moborg.
The GoFundMe campaign is still active, though Moborg says she is unsure how long she will keep it open.
“I am just so grateful. It’s not going to fix things, but it helps.”