Milan Rossignol isn’t your ordinary toddler. He’s probably one of the youngest metalheads you’re likely to meet.
The almost three-year-old is a huge Metallica fan, spending hours every day rocking out to his favourite music.
It’s how Milan, and his family, are getting through the days.
“I think it’s the energy he needs to battle the cancer and the diseases,” said Milan’s father Yannick Rossignol.
Milan has spent most of his short life in and out of hospital after he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at the age of one.
Dr. Sharon Abish, a pediatric oncologist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, is part of a team of specialists treating Milan for Langerhans cell histiocytosis, characterized by a buildup of immune system cells in the body.
Milan has a severe form of the disease.
“There’s a lot of kids who have it who are really not very sick but Milan unfortunately has two very important organs that are both very severely affected — both his lungs and his liver” said Abish.
“This has made it a challenge to find the best treatment that he can both tolerate and that is effective.”
Milan is currently in the hospital’s intensive care unit after experiencing air leaks in his lungs, where he has been receiving chemotherapy treatments.
The family had never heard of the disease before, until Milan’s diagnosis.
“It was my very first time and it’s very scary,” said Milan’s dad, Yannick Rossignol said. “I’m scared all the time, we stress about that but we stay positive.”
Part of what helps Rossignol and his partner Catherine Perreault stay strong is seeing Milan happy — and one of the things that makes him happy is Metallica.
“He doesn’t speak but he has a way of communicating his desires, things he’s happy about, things he’s not happy about,” said Abish, adding his love of heavy metal music hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“He gets so excited every time Metallica gets on the screen and dad and him just rock and roll and they just have a great time.”
Abish admitted she doesn’t share the same musical sensibilities as her young patient.
“This Metallica thing, I have to say I don’t get it,” she said.
But that hasn’t stopped her and Milan’s care team from going the extra mile to help give the family a little boost.
The group of doctors started a hashtag on Twitter requesting anyone who knows the band to help request a virtual meeting.
After thousands of retweets and likes, Milan is set to meet Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich later this week.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Rossignol, “I am so happy about that.”
As for the future, Rossignol and Perrault dream of bringing a healthy Milan home to reunite with his two siblings — a brother and sister aged 5 and 9.
“I think for us it’s going to be the best win if he beats the cancer, that’s our dream.”
— With files from Global’s Olivia O’Malley