Loads of support for baby with rare brain cancer

Melissa Jenkins melissa.jenkins@tc.tc
Published on December 7, 2015

Liam Wrice was a typical 10-month-old boy who enjoyed playing and laughing. But just last month, Liam was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer — Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumour.

Liam had a large tumour removed from his head that filled a quarter of his cranial cavity (inside his skull where the brain is located). He will need at least nine to 12 months of aggressive chemotherapy and treatment. A stem cell extraction will also have to be done in Calgary.

There weren't many signs to indicate cancer or illness at all. It was a twitch in his mouth that led to the initial diagnosis. But as soon as the cancer was found, he was immediately booked for surgery at Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton, Alta.

Liam's parents, Jerry Wrice, a native of Carbonear, and Natasha Hewlin, originally from Cow Head, have had to change their life to ensure their youngest son gets the treatment he needs. The family, which also consists of older son Ryler, live in Fort McMurray. Both still have family and friends in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"They have to uproot their entire life," said Liam's aunt, Tammy Write Paetkau, who lives in Carbonear.

So far, Liam has had the surgery to remove the tumour and has had a stent inserted into his head to drain fluid.

"The positive in this is the amount he has bounced back, even after his stent surgery," cousin Holly Sullivan explained. "He's still smiling."

As soon as Liam was diagnosed, Tammy said there was an overwhelming show of support from people all over Canada. This is when ideas for fundraisers started coming in.

One of the fundraisers took place last week with the help of Laura-Lee Hiscock, who is also a cousin to the Wrice family. She is also the instructor for the Keyin College dog-grooming program.

After getting verification from the school, the students and Laura-Lee held a grooming fundraiser. The $500 made from dog grooming appointments will go to Liam and his family.

Hundreds of dollars in quality items were donated to an online auction, which ended on Saturday, from individuals and local businesses. And those bidding on the items went well above face value, and even offered to pay shipping to other provinces if they won the item. They surpassed their fundraising goal of $1,000.

Dad Jerry and mom Natasha are taking things a day at a time in Alberta.

But so far there has been an outpouring of support there as well. Some 900 cold plates were sold at a recent fundraiser organized by the family.

"Natasha and myself are overwhelmed with the love, prayers, messages, and support from one end of this country to the other," Jerry told The Compass through an exchange on social media from Alberta. "It is absolutely incredible how amazing people are."

It's not an easy journey for anyone in the family, especially Liam's parents. But they are doing their best to get over this hurdle.

"Though, this is something we would have never thought of happening to our baby boy in a million years, it did," Jerry continued. "And, it is that love, support, and prayer that is going to help him fight and win this battle. There are not enough words to truly express how thankful and grateful we are for all everyone has done."

Tammy, Holly and Laura-Lee also send out sincere thank yous to everyone that has helped with the fundraisers and donated money.

"We're really feeling the love," Holly exclaimed.

The family has started trending #LiamStrong on different social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Jerry, Natasha and others are using it to help keep people updated, but it is also being used to share messages of hope, love and prayer to the family.

If anyone would like to contact the Wrice family, email tammy@tewstudio.com.