Jo and Alix Down are celebrating an early Christmas gift.
Their two-year-old son, Henry, is ready to go home.
“The idea of everyone being at home for Christmas is gift enough,” said Jo Down last week.
The family lives on Pender Island, but dad Jo and mom Alix were both raised in Sidney. Their friends and family on the Peninsula were stunned this summer after Henry was admitted to the B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver with a diagnosis of neuroblastoma. Henry had a 14 centimetre long, stage four tumour that doctors said had spread to different parts of his body. He started round after round of chemotherapy.
On Dec. 1, just a few days before his second birthday, he had surgery to remove the tumour.
“He was in his third day of recovery from the tumour surgery,” Down said. “We celebrated his birthday and then all the Vancouver Canucks came by the next day.”
Henry was discharged, then started a two-day round of chemotherapy on Dec. 8. Last Wednesday they got the good news that the tumour the doctors removed was 100 per cent dead, not the 95 per cent doctors had anticipated.
Still, there was the expectation Henry would need a liver surgery in the third week of January, as well as “megatherapy” chemo that would clobber his immune system and be followed up by stem cell transplant. Then the weekend came, and along with it a bit of a holiday miracle. None of the follow up is necessary.
“Henry’s medical status has been improved dramatically because of his excellent response to chemotherapy,” Down said on Saturday. “He is doing wonderfully excellent and the doctors and lead oncologist have told us that by the end of January, or thereabouts, his treatments will be over and he can come home permanently.”
Keep up with Henry’s progress join the Facebook group, I love Henry Down. Donations to the Down family can be made to Island Savings 809, Brentwood Bay branch 20000 #2174233.
The gift of thanks
It’s not an uncommon tale when a child becomes gravely ill. Travel, meals and communication start sucking the bank account, alongside the loss of at least one income.
“We would have been in dire straits without those fundraiser events,” said Jo Down, of auctions by friends and the ****News Review hot dog sale last summer.
The gift of prepaid seaplane flights are making the trip from Pender to Vancouver easier for Down.
“I can get from my office to the hospital in less than an hour as opposed to five hours on the ferry,” he said.