Friends, family rally around young cancer patient
© Submitted photo
Nicholas shaves the head of a friend while home for a visit earlier this month. The 12-year old has been in St. John’s for the last six months, undergoing treatment for Relapsed Acute Lymphatic Leukemia. The head shaving was the idea of his cousin, Dawson Sampson, who didn’t want Nicholas to feel alone when he came home.
By BRANDON RAMEY
Special to The Labradorian
It was a very special homecoming for 12-year old Nicholas Clarke of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
The young cancer patient came earlier this month to see many shaved heads to show their support for his continuing battle with Relapsed Acute Lymphatic Leukemia.
“When Dawson (Sampson, Nicholas’s cousin) found out that he might be coming home soon (for a visit) is when he called Nick Parsons and asked him if he would shave his head with him... so Nicholas wouldn’t feel alone,” explained Debbie Clarke, Nicholas’s mother.
Since Nicholas’s diagnosis in June, it has been a difficult time, especially when Nicholas started his third most aggressive round of treatment, which led to a lung infection. This lung infection had landed Nicholas in the hospital for the most of the fall.
It is upon Nicholas’ recovery from the infection and the news that he may have a chance to come home for a visit that Dawson came up with an idea.
“I remember my dad did it when Nick had cancer the first time around,” said the 15-year old.
This is Nicholas’s second time going through cancer treatment. During his first treatment, several adults from the community of Port Hope Simpson came together and shaved their heads in support of Nicholas, which lead to Dawson thinking about shaving his head when Nicholas came back for his visit.
Dawson thought it would be a good idea to get a friend involved in the head shaving to show Nicholas that he had a lot of support from back home.
“Nicholas is a good family friend of ours and when I found out that he had cancer, I felt bad and everything...as soon as (Dawson) said that he wanted to do it, I said I wanted to right away,” noted Nick Parsons,15.
Once Nicholas arrived home on Dec. 9th, the idea was proposed to him and on the 11th, Nicholas was given control of the clippers give his friends perfect buzz cuts.
“He had good fun with it though and put some funny markings in our hair,” said Dawson.
Knowing that teenage boys can often be very cautious about how they look made this event that much more special for the Clarke family. It even helped inspire some of Nicholas’ younger siblings to get involved and get in line for a mowhawk or two.
“Once they did it, of course, my boys wanted their hair cut as well, but they weren’t quite brave enough to go as short as Nick and Dawson,” said Debbie.
Although Nicholas is used to being surrounded by family and friends during his visits home, the head shaving this time made it that much better.
“I was surprised,” said Nicholas of the support, adding that this fall has “been bad” because he didn’t get to go home that much.
Since Nicholas was first diagnosed in June, him and his mother have been pretty much living in St. John’s, while Nicholas receives treatment.
His home community has rallied together to show their support for the family. This past summer, members of the Salvation Army Church in Goose Bay came together to organize a flea market, with all proceeds going to Nicholas and his family.
The local soccer teams have also come on board, collecting all the garbage around town to raise money for the family and the Goose Bay Judo Club has also helped out by delivering Sears magazines.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from the community...not only financial but emotional support as well,” said Debbie.
She notes a program was developed last year, which allows people to deliver meals to the Ronald McDonald House where she and Nicholas are staying while in St. Johns. She said this program is yet another example of how people are willing to give a help and hand to those who need it.
“All of this hard work and support is not something that goes unnoticed,” said Debbie.
“A huge huge, huge thank you to everyone in Goose Bay and on the coast; we’ve been very blessed.”
Thanks to the generosity of the people in Labrador, Debbie said Nicholas’ father and siblings will be joining him in St. John’s for Christmas.