Brothers Sean and Rory are practicing their golf skills on a sunny summer afternoon.
“I really like using drivers,” five-year-old Rory says.
“I like mini golf, personally, because it’s more of the tapping than actually as swinging as hard,” big brother Sean adds.
The Victoria family has been through a lot in the past year, after little Rory was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia last July.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure,” says Rory’s mom, Sara Phillips, with tears in her eyes. “There’s nothing comparable. It’s definitely a life-changing diagnosis for our whole family.”
They spent several months in Vancouver for treatment and have been back and forth numerous times.
“It’s been quite hard because, like, nothing has pretty much gone easy during it,” Sean says. “It’s hard and he’s gone through so much. I just feel bad for him.”
Sean’s been a great big brother, and throughout this difficult journey, this family — and hundreds of others — have had the support of the Island Kids Cancer Association (IKCA).
“Our goal is to provide really practical support for families with a child who is having a cancer diagnosis,” explains Island Kids Cancer Association program coordinator Jamie Hellard. “Things like food and fuel vouchers and things like programming for kids so that they can have that connection.”
IKCA also provides free counselling for the entire family and provides vital connections for parents.
“Just, you know, speaking with other families that have gone through the same journey, and seeing that, you know, there’s hope at the end,” Sara says.
“They’ve helped us a lot and to be honest, things would have been like 10 to 20 times harder if not for them,” Sean adds. “At the hospital, they would supply snacks, toys and stuff, which helped distract my brother when he was getting needles.”
To help support Island families, IKCA is having its second annual golf tournament fundraiser at Cordova Bay Golf Club on Aug. 16.
“This is our largest fundraiser of the year and it really does supply a lot of our funds for the year so that we can keep making impact in these family’s lives, and so that we can broaden that impact and make sure that no one walks through this journey alone,” says Jamie.
Rory’s still in treatment but no longer has to go to Vancouver. He’s on track to start kindergarten in September and his prognosis is good.
“He’s just entered maintenance, so I think the hardest part’s behind us as they really go in strong and sort of kill those cancer cells and keep them down,” Sara says. “But he’s such a tough guy. He has this bracelet, and it’s one of the cancer bracelets that says, ‘I never give up,’ and some days he’s had a really hard time and he’s said, you know, ‘Mom, I’ll never give up,’ so he’s been a trouper throughout it all.”
To register for the golf tournament or to donate an auction prize, click on this link to learn more.