The morning of June 7 dawned hot and cloudy; over one hundred and twenty Elmdale school kids were lined up at Andrew Hayden Park, shirts already sticking to their backs, awaiting the commencement of the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s Spring Sprint.
It’s a cause very near and dear to the students’ hearts – because among them is Jakob Bouse, a grade six student at Elmdale Public School. Six months ago, Jakob began to suffer from tremors and headaches, which led to an MRI at CHEO – it revealed a brain tumour, a low-grade astrocytoma. The cerebral spinal fluid was pooling in his brain, causing a condition known as hydrocepahlus; it was an issue that had to be dealt with immediately.
Under the care of Ronald McDonald house in Toronto, Jakob underwent an Endoscopic third Ventriculostomy – a procedure that drilled through his head, creating a channel the fluid could flow through.
“That eased a bunch of symptoms; his energy was a lot better, the headaches had gone down, the tremor was still there but improved dramatically,” says Karlis Bouse, Jakob’s father. “For him it was like night and day. His spirits were better, he felt stronger – but there was still the tumour that needed to be dealt with.”
Biopsy cellular samples were gathered from a scraping of the tumour; for the next three weeks, Jakob and his parents played the waiting game.
“The uncertainties are the worst,” says Bouse.
But there was good news on the horizon – the results revealed a non-malignant, slow-growing tumour. While surgery was an option, it was too risky for the grade six to undergo; seventy weeks of chemotherapy was the prescribed treatment.
“With the diagnosis the world gets really small – you don’t know how to process it, and the information comes in slowly. But over time more people come in and say, ‘my cousin had this’, or ‘my uncle went through this’, and you get to meet people that have been in similar situations. And then the whole support network comes in,” says Bouse.
Marilyn Cassidy, a nurse from the Pediatric Oncology Group Of Ontario, gave a presentation to Elmdale students that would demystify Jakob’s condition to the other students. Armed with their new knowledge, the students decided to participate in the Spring Sprint – creating a group of 120 people, and thereby making this run the biggest out of its 22 events across Canada.
“The compassion and love everyone has – the friends and families and neighbours – was really overwhelming and special to see,” says Bouse. “All the prayers and support really does make a big difference.”
The Ottawa Spring Sprint raised over $82,000 for brain tumour research and patient programs. Although the Sprint Day has passed, donations are still welcome. Donate online at springsprint.ca/site/TR?fr_id=1213&pg=entry.