Saving Tiernan

On Friday March 4th, 2016 our young family changed forever, as we heard the words “Your son has cancer”.

It all started with a little bit of knee pain on and off starting in the middle of Feburary. On Wednesday, March 2nd the pain suddenly got worse and Tiernan was taken to a clinic in the hopes of getting an x-ray. Unfortunately, the doctor felt that based on his assessment, an x-ray was not necessary and attributed the pain to a soft tissue injury (as Tiernan is an avid soccer player). The next day, our life returned to normal as Tiernan went on with his normal activities. Such as, going to school, homework, T.V. and other routines. But by March 4th the pain had returned and was much worse.

Tiernan then sent both Kai (my husband) and I text messages at 6:30am complaining of increased knee pain, and being the smart boy that he is, requested to go to the hospital.

Kai then took Tiernan to the hospital, while I took our daughter Siobhan to school. Upon arrival at the hospital, an x-ray was taken. Initially Kai had told me to not to bother coming to the hospital and to meet them at home as the x-ray was done. Being a nurse and knowing that Tiernan is a highly active and slightly crazy ninja boy, we both were expecting a simple fracture or torn meniscus; No big deal.

Within minutes of my drive home, Kai called to advise me I needed to get to the hospital as soon as I could. He told me that they wanted to do an MRI right away. And again, being a nurse, I knew MRI’s usually take weeks to months unless they suspect something serious. This is the first moment I thought “please don’t let my baby have cancer." The MRI was done at noon that day.

Sadly, after the MRI, many blood tests, skeletal scans and ultra sounds we heard the words “Your son likely has cancer”. We were quickly sent to B.C. Children’s Hospital to meet with an oncologist that night.

Upon arrival to B.C. Children’s hospital more tests were done. We were told there appears to be multiple bone lesions in his legs, pelvis, arms, and spinal cord. They also found a large mass in the right side of his chest and another mass on his adrenal gland. We aren’t sure if we will ever find the primary source of the cancer, due to the extent of metastasis throughout his body.

Throughout all the testing and pain, Tiernan has been a rock star. He is now on a continuous morphine drip to help control the pain. He will be starting on several new medications and undergo his first surgery tomorrow March 11th. The surgery is to collect tissue and bone marrow biopsies, as well as inserting a chest tube to help drain fluid from his chest (this should help him breath a little bit easier).

The anesthesiologist has several concerns and feels that he is of high risk for complications, because the mass in his chest is compressing both his heart and airway.

We are trying to remain optimistic and feel that with the help of a great team (his oncologists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, cardiologists, social workers, physiotherapists, nurses, child life specialists and everyone else) we can come up with an aggressive plan to treat Tiernan.

This is going to be a very long journey while we help Tiernan fight his cancer. We expect to have many trips from Victoria to Vancouver (between home and hospital). And the added expenses of meals, child care for our daughter (back in Victoria), cost of living both in Vancouver and in Victoria, medications, equipment and the potential need for some home renovations so Tiernan can safely return home and any unexpected costs that will arise.

At this time, Kai and I are off work on an extended leave of absence and while we are receiving some money, it isn’t nearly enough to cover the basic living expenses.

This is where YOU CAN HELP Tiernan and our family through this very challenging time. It is our goal to raise funds so we can spend as much time with Tiernan as we can. Unfortunately, this requires our absence from work.

We would like to thank all of the people who have already opened their hearts and homes to us, by dropping by with well wishes, food, toys, cards and balloons. And we will be eternally grateful for any donations or shares on social media at this time. Thank you for taking the time to read Tiernan’s story, we will keep you all posted, as we know more.

Donations (0)

  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 34 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 35 mos
  • Marissa Tomlinson 
    • $20 
    • 36 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 36 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 37 mos


Michelle Dowling 
Victoria, BC
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