The past seven days have been a battle for a local Lacombe family who are facing an even tougher road ahead.
Recently it was discovered that 13-year-old Tyler Hultink has an orange sized tumour taking up “luxury real estate” in his brain.
The Hultink family consists of parents Mike and Deb, who are both born-and-raised Lacombians, along with their four children Gabe, Mason, Molly and Tyler.
Tyler first began experiencing dizziness on Sunday according to Karen White a close family friend.
“He was kind of making jokes about being dizzy and my son joked back and said ‘you’re probably iron deficient, go eat a steak’,” said White, who describes Tyler like a brother to her oldest son.
However, he began vomiting on Monday which lead his parents to take him to the Lacombe Hospital. After being sent from hospital to hospital the family eventually ended up at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton where the tumour was discovered.
The appointment for brain surgery was made and Tyler was sent home to have a few nights in his own bed. Unfortunately, he began to deteriorate and so the family ended back at the Stollery Hospital.
Tyler underwent a 10-hour brain surgery last Friday where neurosurgeons were, reportedly, unable to remove the entire tumour and suspect that it was cancerous.
“The surgeon said it looked to be an aggressive one and said there were particles all over his brain,” said White.
The family will have to wait 10 business days until they can confirm the mass is cancerous and learn what the next course of action will be.
Currently, Tyler is recovering from surgery, a process that will require another four to six weeks at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and then three to 12 months of physical therapy before further treatments can take place.
Tyler is with his two parents who have taken time off work to ensure they can be by his side every step of the way.
On Dec. 10, the day before Tyler’s surgery, White decided to set up a GoFundMe to help alleviate some of the financial stress that will come as a result of the whirlwind diagnosis.
“When I first said I was going to start a GoFundMe [Deb] said ‘no, don’t do that,” said White.
“But I said ‘guess what, you have a lot of expenses coming’ and so we did it anyway.”
Within hours of the page being up, over $13,000 had been donated and White said at one point $1,000 was being raised per hour.
The GoFundMe has a goal of $25,000 but White said she doesn’t know how much the family will need or how long the medical costs will last. However she estimates with the recovery time needed and travel expenses it will likely be more than $25,000.
“I had no idea what the goal should be and I didn’t really ask them what they needed,” said White.
“If you caluculate all the time off work and all these things … I should have maybe made it higher.”
As of time of publishing, the current amount raised is over $43,000.
Though the family didn’t want to ask for help, White insisted and said the Hultinks are overwhelmed and grateful for the community support.
White describes Tyler as a bright light who is always smiling and incredibley kind to everyone around him and she added his entire family is quick to help anyone in the community who might need it.
Deb and Mike are currently isolating with Tyler in his hospital room after a potential COVID-19 exposure from another patient while their other children are with caregivers.
White said people who are interested in helping the family can do so through the GoFundMe page where there will also be a link to a Facebook page to show support for Tyler.
“Friday was the first hurdle and now there’s another hurdle they didn’t want,” said White.
“Right now all we can help them with is finances and prayers.”