Amherstburg Public School shows support for student battling cancer



By Jolene Perron


Amherstburg Public School used their annual “Toonie for Terry Fox” event to help teach their students about awareness and to encourage them to support one of their own.

“On June 25, he had to go to the hospital because I noticed some swelling,” explained Natalie Brundage Hasson, mother of Brock Hasson, a Grade 3 student at Amherstburg Public School. “They did an ultrasound and he had a mass, and they removed it. Then we found out July 4 he was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma so he started chemo in August and he has to do a three-month plan and then he is going to have surgery again because some of the margins around the tumour came back positive. Then he will be doing another three rounds of chemo again and we will go from there.”

Sarcomas are cancers that develop from connective tissues in the body, such as muscles, fat, bones, the linings of joints, or blood vessels. While there are many types of sarcomas, Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a cancer made up of cells that normally develop into skeletal muscles.

During his treatment, Brundage Hasson said they were going to try to have Brock go to school for half days, but he keeps getting neutropenic, which is an abnormally low level of neutrophils, which are a common type of white blood cell important to fighting off infections, particularly those caused by bacteria.

Brock Hasson stands with his mother Natalie Brundage Hasson (right) and grandparents Bill Brundage (left) and Brenda Brundage during the warmup for Amherstburg Public School’s “Toonie for Terry” event in memory of Terry Fox. The students wore blue, Brock’s favorite colour and Little Hands T-shirt colour, to show their support for his battle with Rhabdomyosarcoma.

“His special education teacher Laura gave me a lot of stuff to have him do at home, just because we’re all a little nervous,” explained Brundage Hasson. “They encourage him to have a normal life and still go to school but he keeps getting neutropenic, he was admitted just last week because of it, he had a fever and he had to be on antibiotics, so what do you do?”

When Brock did spend half a day with his classmates, his special education teacher Laura Braithwaite said they all wore masks for support, watched the Magic School Bus and talked about protecting themselves from sickness and why it’s so important for Brock during this time. Braithwaite sends schoolwork home for his mom to do with him when he feels up to it.

“I think it is important to know you are not alone and that people care and are there to help,” explained Braithwaite. “It is also important for them to know for self-awareness. Cancer can impact anyone at any age.”

During the elementary school’s recent Terry Fox Walk, the school encouraged their students and staff to wear blue in support for Brock, which is his Little Hands T-shirt colour. Currently, Brock is part of the Little Hands initiative, which a community-lead organization with the goal to assist children with life-threatening illnesses. All of the proceeds from Brock’s personalized shirts go directly to his family.

“When this happens, you don’t realize, there’s so many strangers and such that I don’t even know who have been there,” said Brundage Hasson. “When people say cancer changes things, it really does. He deserves this; he’s one of a kind, my little man. I just want to thank everybody. It is just so surprising to have all of these people I do and don’t know who are all right here to help. It’s just so overwhelming. There are so many people pulling for him.”

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