The community of Big Lake is rallying for the family of a 16-month-old boy who is at B.C. Children’s Hospital with an aggressive form of brain cancer.
On Thursday, April 25, Tristan Rempel was rushed from his home in Big Lake to Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake after he began vomiting and became lethargic.
His father Matt Rempel said at first the staff at the hospital thought Tristan was having a diabetic seizure, but when they realized it was not the case, they did a CT scan which revealed his brain was bleeding from the pressure of a tumor.
“They decided to air transport him to Vancouver,” Rempel told the Tribune Wednesday.
“They called me in because they were not even sure that he would make it through the flight to Vancouver because of the pressure on his brain.”
At B.C. Children’s Hospital the doctors preformed surgery to remove the tumor and Tristan was put on a ventilator and sedated.
Earlier this week, Tristan started to cry and roll over.
“He is at about a five-month stage right now,” Rempel said, adding whereas until April 25 his son was running around and playing like a normal 16-month-old with his three older siblings.
Now the Rempels are waiting for approval from the medical services plan for Tristan to be transferred to Seattle to undergo proton radiation treatments which are presently not available in Canada.
The cancer Tristan has is called ependymoma which is a type of tumor that can form in the brain or spinal cord.
It can occur at any age, but most often occurs in young children.
Matt is employed at Rodear Meats on Beaver Valley Road and is continuing to work, while Jenn has been staying in Vancouver with Tristan.
Big Lake resident Marsha Armstrong, who works at the Big Lake Store, is helping plan a fundraiser for the family.
“I used to work with Matt and my daughter goes to school with his daughter, ” Armstrong said.
“It breaks my heart what they are going through and it’s going to be expensive to go to Seattle.”
The fundraiser will take place at the Big Lake Store on Sunday, May 26, from noon until 7 p.m.
There will be a barbecue serving hamburgers and hot dogs, games and fun activities for children, and a silent auction.
Armstrong is hoping to get a few local musicians to perform during the day as well.
“We are banding together as a community to help them,” Armstrong said.
Further information about the fundraiser will be posted on the Big Lake Facebook page.
A GoFundMe campaign — Help Little T-Rex and His Family — created by Matt’s sister-in-law, Jill Rempel of Prince George, had reached $8,291 toward a $10,000 goal by Thursday, May 16.
“People have already been blessing them with the initial needs,” Jill noted on the Go Fund Me page.
“Their other three kids are being loved on by grandpa and grandma,” she added. “Let’s help support them through this time.”