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‘Kids should not be facing this monster’: Saskatoon family fighting childhood cancer

‘Kids should not be facing this monster’: Saskatoon family fighting childhood cancer
WATCH: In March 2016, Roan Dahlen was diagnosed with leukemia. His family is now selling T-shirts to raise money for childhood cancer research.

The past three and a half years have not been easy for 10-year-old Roan Dahlen and his family.

“To watch my heart outside have to fight daily for just a bit of normalcy, a little bit of strength, it was the most gut-wrenching thing,” said Roan’s mom, Coralee Abbott.

READ MORE: Terry Fox Run in Saskatoon raises $30K for cancer research

On March 4, 2016, Roan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

From there, chemotherapy and isolation became the norm.

“It’s just wrong,” Abbott said. “Kids should not be facing this monster.”

Abbott described the entire ordeal as “running a marathon.”

“It’s been a bit scary at times, it’s been trying — it’s been amazing, too, just watching the circle of love that unfolds,” she said.

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On May 10, 2019, Roan reached the finish line — his final day of treatment.

“After I was done all my chemo and stuff, I felt more energy in me,” Roan said.

READ MORE: Cancer survival rates in Saskatchewan trending upwards, according to report

And through it all, hockey helped him cope.

“It kind of takes the anger out of me once in a while,” he said.

Back in March, Roan started wearing gold laces — a colour that symbolizes pediatric cancer. His team quickly followed his lead.

In March, Roan started wearing gold laces to symbolize pediatric cancer.
In March, Roan started wearing gold laces to symbolize pediatric cancer. Courtesy: Coralee Abbott

“Once I put them on everybody started to put them on one by one,” he explained.

The gesture swept through the Saskatchewan hockey community and beyond. His family will try to keep the movement growing this upcoming season.

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“Made me feel like there was hope,” Abbott said. “There was another conversation being had about why they were wearing them and what needed to be done to help others.”

Abbott and her husband own City Perks Cafe in Saskatoon.

For a second year, all proceeds from brewed coffee sales in September will go towards childhood cancer research through the Terry Fox PROFYLE program.

Last year, the initiative raised $6,200.

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As you walk into the cafe it’s hard to miss the premise of their latest fundraising effort — T-shirts with a powerful message.

One reads “make coffee stronger than cancer”; another symbolizes how far Roan has come with a hot air balloon.

“It just seemed fitting,” Abbott said. “If we could make any cup of coffee stronger than any of the cancers out there, wouldn’t that be an amazing wonderful thing?”

The next five years will be a waiting game, according to Abbott. To be considered cured, Roan can’t have any relapses.

“He goes for regular monthly bloodwork appointments,” she said.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month — to recognize the impact cancer has on families across the country.

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READ MORE: Stories of support and survival highlight 39th Terry Fox Run in Regina

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, childhood cancer accounts for less than one per cent of all new cancer cases in Canada, but it’s the second leading cause of death in Canadian children after injuries.

Ultimately, Abbott believes it’s an important conversation and “more needs to be done.”

“It’s the least talked about cancer that’s out there,” she said. “Nobody wants to see what these kids are actually going through.”

As for Roan, he’s got his sights set on the future.

“Thinking of being an architect when I’m older, but I do want to get further into hockey — in like the WHL.”