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Cancer treatment for GTA science teacher made possible thanks to crowdfunding campaign

Click to play video: 'Cancer treatment for GTA science teacher made possible thanks to crowdfunding campaign' Cancer treatment for GTA science teacher made possible thanks to crowdfunding campaign
WATCH ABOVE: Thirty-six-year-old science teacher Amin Khalfan is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The one treatment that could extend his life is not currently covered by OHIP and costs $200,000. On Tuesday, the family started to share their GoFundMe campaign and in a matter of 12 hours, they raised the entire amount and more. Katherine Ward reports. – Feb 2, 2021

Thirty-six-year-old Amin Khalfan loves teaching science and loves his family even more, especially his two daughters.

“They are my world,” said Amin.

“Everything I do basically revolves around them.”

But last spring, plans for the future were put on hold when his health started to rapidly decline.

For a few weeks he had been having night sweats, but he simply thought it was because of stress. Then one day, things took a turn for the worse.

Read more: Toronto-area radio host recounts cancer journey during COVID-19 pandemic

“One morning in March I basically didn’t wake up. The paramedics had to come and revive me,” Amin said.

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His wife Natasha remembers the ambulance, the paramedics, and feeling in shock about what was happening.

A 10-day stay in the hospital confirmed Amin had stage 4 pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer. Because of COVID-19, Natasha could not be there when doctors shared the diagnosis.

“Amin called me and we were just crying on the phone,” said Natasha. “I said, ‘There must be a mistake.’”

What followed was a series of regular check-ups, treatments, and chemotherapy. However, none of the measures were getting the cancer under control.

Amin said the weight of not knowing what was going to happen was a difficult burden to carry.

“I can handle pretty much anything that life throws at me, I am okay with that,” Amin said with a smile.

“But what I am not okay with, is leaving my wife with nothing or leaving my kids with nothing. I just couldn’t fathom that happening.”

Click to play video: 'Corus radio host recounts cancer journey amid pandemic restrictions' Corus radio host recounts cancer journey amid pandemic restrictions
Corus radio host recounts cancer journey amid pandemic restrictions – Jan 19, 2021

Scans in the fall confirmed the cancer was progressing rapidly.

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“Tumours were coming back very aggressively, and [they] had shown that cancer was in my bones as well,” Amin said.

By this point, Amin had exhausted all treatments covered by OHIP. But doctors said there was another possibility: a drug called Lutathera.

However, it was expensive and currently not approved for funding by the province. For the four necessary treatments, it would cost a total of $200,000 — money the Khalfan family did not have.

Amin said the timing was terrible.

“From what I understand from talking to my doctors, my type of cancer will be covered, but not for another year,” he said.

Read more: Cancer treatments face shipment delays as coronavirus limits many Canadian flights

“I simply don’t have the luxury of time to wait another year.”

With the clock ticking, the family went public with their story. After sharing a GoFundMe page on Tuesday, the response was immediate, and overwhelming.

Within 12 hours, the entire amount to cover the treatment had been donated. Strangers moved by their story donated thousands of dollars as a show of support.

As Natasha watched the donations pour in, she said it was surreal.

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“[It was] people all over the world have been contributing, people we don’t know,“ Natasha said.

The couple said they cannot wait to tell their medical team that they have the money, and that Amin is ready to start the treatment.

Amin knows he will never be cured of cancer. But this drug gives his family the next best thing: the gift of time. Amin and Natasha said they plan to use it in the best way possible, making memories and being together as a family.

“I am really grateful for every day I wake up,” Amin said. “What I really want from this life is more of it, that’s all I can say.”

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