Cole Mechor collage of photos

Cole Mechor

Calgary AB

On November 6, 2017, my son Cole was diagnosed with blood cancer. Prior to this, he had been experiencing various health issues for months. The diagnosis was a shock, and Cole required immediate medical attention.

Cole had not been feeling well for months. He was struggling and did not have the stamina to finish grade one successfully.  Cole had unexplained infections, fevers, bruising, and weight loss and was not himself. His teacher observed that his skin colour had changed drastically, and I decided it was time to take him to the pediatrician. The doctor ordered bloodwork as she was uncertain what was wrong, and his paleness may have resulted from the flu season. In addition, he was frail, so I rushed him to the lab at the Alberta Children's Hospital.

Within an hour, the doctor called and told me Cole's blood results had come back positive for leukemia and ordered us to pack an overnight bag and go straight to the emergency. An oncologist was waiting for us and told us they were treating this like a heart attack; time was not on our side. Cole and I packed his bags, and I didn't have words to share with Cole to tell him what was happening.

Later that evening, Cole was diagnosed with a high-risk ALL and required immediate blood and platelet transfusions and many other tests all through the night. He needed surgery to have a port implanted to administer chemo, but it was not strong enough, so they deferred the surgery for a few days.

While under the knife, the surgeons lost Cole's airway and ended up in the ICU as he was not able to breathe on his own. The general surgeon called, telling us to move Cole's personal effects from the oncology unit to the ICU and that he would begin chemo that evening. They hooked Cole up to a ventilator, and I couldn't have imagined anything worse than hearing that he had cancer, but seeing him like that was exponentially worse. 

When Cole was able to breathe on his own, they transferred him back to oncology, but unfortunately, he had contracted a blood strep infection. The misfortune did not stop. For six weeks, Cole received IV antibiotics and around-the-clock chemo.  
Upon diagnosis, the medical team told us the treatment plan would occur over 3 1/2 years and would require chemo daily. My son was admitted as an inpatient countless times, and when he wasn't in the hospital, he was in isolation at home. The doctor informed us that all our plans would be tentative because our lives would revolve around treatment and the hospital; the best we could do was to plan things day to day.  

We focused on the treatment plan for the next 3 1/2 years and tried to make Cole have as much fun as possible.  Unfortunately, there's very little support for children and caregivers during this type of treatment. Honestly, one is just focused on their child surviving and getting to remission; nothing else matters. Life looked different after March 9, 2021.  

It would be nice to think that children would have much better support for future diagnoses, including continued research and testing to help patients through this nightmare.  

After treatment, we heard about LLS and the support they give kids with scholarships to Sylvan Learning. I was at a loss about how to get Cole back on track, but after a phone call to set up testing and the administration of it, we enrolled Cole at the Sylvan Learning Centre. He received a scholarship to help him learn to fill in things he missed while on treatment. His time at Sylvan has been life-changing. They have supported him mentally, socially and academically, and his confidence has increased markedly. Sylvan set him up to apply to schools, and he had the most successful year we could have imagined. We are so grateful for Sylvan; words cannot do our appreciation justice.

Today, Cole is a happy 13-year-old but lives with many side effects from his chemo treatments and remains on numerous medications. My hope is for advancements in research to improve treatments and patient outcomes.