Courageous child confronts cancer

Ron and Angie Grisdale have been residents of Williams Lake for more than 40 years. Ron works for West Fraser and Angie has run Auntie Angie’s Daycare for most of those years. Recently their granddaughter, Brinley Ryann Pawluk, so full of life, was diagnosed with leukemia — a very devastating illness that is beyond anything we can imagine. The pain Brinley is going through, just to survive, just to be alive, is very difficult to watch. It does not seem fair that any child should have to suffer. If I could I would take all her pain.

  • Jan. 20, 2011 8:00 a.m.
Brinley Pawluk

Brinley Pawluk

Ron and Angie Grisdale have been residents of Williams Lake for more than 40 years. Ron works for West Fraser and Angie has run Auntie Angie’s Daycare for most of those years. Recently their granddaughter, Brinley Ryann Pawluk, so full of life, was diagnosed with leukemia — a very devastating illness that is beyond anything we can imagine. The pain Brinley is going through, just to survive, just to be alive, is very difficult to watch. It does not seem fair that any child should have to suffer. If I could I would take all her pain.

Morgan, her husband Blake, and their five-year-old son Carter have had to make many sacrifices and adjustments to their daily lives. Their world is completely turned upside down. The fun-filled days of yesterday are gone and, out of necessity, they have been replaced with days spent in waiting rooms, talking to doctors about test results and what the next step will be, days spent driving to and from the hospital for treatment. Days spent hoping, praying and believing everything will be all right.

The following are excerpts taken from Morgan’s blog. Morgan invites you to read about her “Unexpected Journey” at http://mpawluk.blogspot.com.

When you become a mother for the first, second, third or whatever time, you never expect the bad. You look at your beautiful baby and nothing in the world matters. From there you begin to imagine their life, who would they grow up to be? You start to mould them at a young age to be respectful of others and themselves to teach them consequences and accountability. You notice their changes in attitude, the shift in their personalities that lead you to believe that you are on the right path. You do every and anything in your power to ensure that they are healthy and happy and, sometimes, no matter how hard we try, life happened.

On Nov. 9, 2010, Brinley complained of leg pain, which was quickly followed by a high fever. I took her to the hospital and was dismissed as a cold.

On Nov. 13, Brinley is worse. Her fever is higher. She’s lethargic and I bring her to Stollery Children’s Hospital. They admit her for observation and blood work. After a grueling week of intravenous, X-rays, MRI, blood smear, more blood work, blood transfusion and a bone-marrow aspiration, we wait for results.

On Nov. 18, the doctor comes into the room and would like to speak to my husband and myself somewhere else. Deep down I know it’s bad news but I choose to ignore it. He leads us to a conference room in the oncology department to have a chat about Brinley. A social worker reaches out her hand to introduce herself and it all hits me at once. “This is NOT good news. This is a virus.” There is something wrong and I just lose it. I’m crying and nobody has told us anything yet. “I’m scared.” The doctor is rambling off blood counts, and the whole time I’m thinking, “just say the words” and he does: “Your daughter has leukemia.…” After that I hear white noise.

Nov. 19, chemo begins, spinal taps, lumbar punctures are being introduced. Migraines, vomiting, muscle weakness are clearly evident of the illness that has taken hold of our beautiful Brin.

And so it begins, the journey that I and my family are now travelling. This is going to be a long fight for all of us. I constantly worry the unknown. Sometimes I just feel like I’m in a giant vacuum and all the air is sucked out of the room.

Brinley has responded well to treatment but the battle is far from over. This sweet little girl is in for the fight of her life. The worst fear is that Brin will relapse. It is something the family will have to live with everyday. Her future, her very life, remains at risk. A trust fund for Brinley Ryann Pawluk has been set up in Williams Lake at TD Canada Trust, account number 09346341706. We thank all our family and friends for your prayers and kind words of encouragement. We appreciate all your support.