At 7, Callum is having to relearn everything.

At 7, Callum has to relearn everything.


On April 13, Callum’s life changed forever. His mom and dad, Carlos and Julie, took him to CHEO because of issues with his balance. An MRI discovered a large brain tumour at the back of his head. Over the next four days, he underwent two back-to-back 24 hour long surgeries, over 48 hours under anesthesia, followed by three weeks on a respirator, along with a flurry of scans and other minor surgeries. He came out of ICU just in time to start a course of 30 days of radiation, which must be done within one month of the surgery. Following radiation, he undertook a course of six chemotherapy treatments; he has completed two of those to date. 

Julie and Carlos recently posted this update to their Facebook account:



Brain cancer is about as serious as it gets, yet, Callum’s recovery is even more difficult. He is among the 25% of patients who suffer from Posterior Fossa Syndrome, which means that it will take him much longer to regain his abilities. Once he was able to breathe on his own, he had to learn to do everything again. In the weeks after coming out of the ICU, as he was undergoing radiation, he was gradually able to open his eyes, to move his head, lift one arm, then the other. He has had to fight for every bit of progress. He has since learned to sit up for extended periods of time with assistance, and is now practicing assisted standing several times a day. It took three months after his surgery before he was finally able to make a sound with his voice. A few days later, he said his first word. “UNO!” when his sister forgot to call it out during a game. Many others followed quickly thereafter.

July 10, 2020 - "Loki" joins the family
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He started practicing swallowing, first jello, then fruit sauce. Within a few days, he was chewing Cheerios, one at a time. Now, he eats many regular foods, although most of his nutrition still comes through his gastric tube. And he speaks all the time, even if his speech is still slow and slurred. Carlos and Julie soon learned to celebrate every one of these steps forward as great victories.


And through all of this, Callum’s sense of humour is always shining through, and his special gift to make people laugh. He still loves comic books and super heroes, and is eager to get back to play with his friends again.

Callum and Avery - 2019
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Callum is fortunate in many ways. He has an amazing family: Carlos and Julie. There are no words to describe what they have been through with him, over the last months, being there with him and for him every moment and at every step. He is also a lucky big brother, by one whole minute, to twin sister, Avery, who has been, and continues to be, Callum’s greatest cheerleader. Their extended family has gathered around them and is supporting them in every way they can.


Callum is showing great courage and determination. He has made remarkable progress with his physio and speech therapy, but he still has a very long way to go, and this is where he and his family need help. Callum will need specialized rehabilitation supports for years beyond the end of his chemotherapy. We are extremely fortunate to live in a country with a universal health care system, however, it will not cover many of the future costs. At this stage, we estimate that he will need a minimum of two sessions of physiotherapy, speech therapy and tutoring per week, to make his way back to full health and ability. The cost for this level of support is upward of $25,000 for a single year. He also needs special feeding formula, which is still delivered through a feeding tube, there have been costs to install a ramp at home, for a specialized wheelchair, and so many other things that we would never think of, unless one has been in such a situation.

June 30th, 2020
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While there has been some relief from extended health care, Julie’s coverage is now in doubt as she has had to take an extended leave from her work to care for Callum. 


Carlos and Julie are a kind, compassionate and generous couple. We first met them and their seven-year-old twins Callum and Avery in 2017, when our daughters shared the same JK class. Our children became fast friends, as did all of the parents. As the children grew closer, the parents did too. They are a fun loving family and we have had many wonderful times together. We also know that they are no stranger to trauma. In 2012, before welcoming Callum and Avery into their lives, Julie and Carlos lost their first son, Miles, to a heart defect at the age of 3 months. In the face of such inconceivably difficult circumstances, Carlos and Julie have always been strong and shown great courage and grace. 


Your generosity during this sweet family's most trying times is greatly appreciated. Please reach out to any of the contacts below with questions.



Signed,

Sorya Gopalan - 613-862-3735
Jennifer Kwavnick - 613-355-1030

Co-sponsors: 

Sarah Fernando - 613-805-1185
Jennifer Brownrigg - 613-851-1742
Beth Ciavaglia - 613-889-2583
Emma Gilfillan - 613-618-2273
Kim Montgomery - 613-286-8985
Sylvie Ozipko - 613-355-1956
Mylene Legreseley - 613-296-0320
Tracy Goulet - 613-617-4550



Callum - 2019
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The Fam - December 2019
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Sorya and Jennifer 
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Ottawa, ON
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