In early February, four-year-old Jett Reis of Saskatoon was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG, a rare and incurable brain tumour.
“We’ve been hit with some of the hardest news that a parent has to go through,” Jett’s mother, Larisa, said. “It’s been pretty tough, it’s a nightmare.”
Since the diagnosis, the community has rallied around the Reis family in support of Jett, a meaningful gesture towards a family in a troubling time.
“It’s been unbelievable,” his mother said. “We’ve had some really dark days, and the community coming out, like the Rush, for example, today, it’s just been heartwarming.”
“We can’t thank everybody enough,” Jett’s father, Manny Reis, added. “(Everybody) that’s sent out their love, their support, their prayers, everything, it’s just… it’s overwhelming.”
When word of Jett’s story made it to the Saskatchewan Rush, they wanted to do something to help salute the child.
The end result was a parade that featured the team’s mascot, Bruiser, and Jett’s favourite superhero, the Rush Hulk.
“Today was a pretty big day for Hulk and Jett to meet,” his father said. “Jett was pretty happy, he was fist-bumping him, and it was a really good day.”
A day made equally happy for the Saskatchewan Rush.
“We were so thrilled to get together today,” said Andrea Glieheisen, Rush vice-president of marketing. “To see the family and the outpouring of smiles and laughter, it was just perfect.”
Earlier this week marked the completion of Jett’s 30th round of radiation therapy, however, the only thing radiant on this mild Saturday was the ear-to-ear grin on the four-year-old’s face, an invaluable positive to his entire family.
“He fuels us,” his father explained. “That smile is what fuels us every day to put our feet on the ground and look at the next step, because that’s what we have to do with him right now. He’s such a warrior, he’s helped us along.”
Just as the community has rallied around the Reis family, they too are now rallying to put out awareness towards DIPG and other rare cancers.
“Some of the group and network that we’ve reached out to have been very helpful, including ‘The Cure Starts Now,'” his father said.
“We want to bring more awareness not only to DIPG, but other brain cancers as well,” his mother added.
“That’s one thing that we’ve set out to do, as parents is to get that awareness out there,” his father concluded.