March 10, 1999 - October 3, 2015
- Hometown: Calgary, Alberta
- Year of Diagnosis: 2009
- Diagnosis: Medulloblastoma
“Three days after his 10th birthday, our son Joel was diagnosed with medulloblastoma. It was one of the darkest days of our lives and the first time Joel ever saw his father cry.” – Joel’s father, Ed
They called him the Polish Prince at the hospital because, for a 10-year-old boy, Joel Zukowski exhibited uncommon valor in the face of cancer.
After tolerating months of bizarre symptoms that stumped both his parents and doctors, Joel was diagnosed with medulloblastoma. He had a tumour the size of a kiwi fruit at the back of his head. Treatment called for surgery, followed by radiation and four rounds of high-dose chemotherapy, each followed by stem cell transplant. Considered radical at the time, it would demand vast reserves of inner strength and self-mastery from Joel.
Joel was a Kids Cancer Care spokeskid and spoke at many Kids Cancer Care events about childhood cancer, including Tour for Kids in 2014. Camp Kindle had a special place in Joel’s heart. In his own words:
“Camp Kindle is a magical place where cancer kids and their families can go to just get away. For me, it’s really about just being there with other cancer survivors. It shows me that I’m NOT alone. I’m NOT the only one who’s gone through this. We share our experiences and talk about what we’ve been through. We share a common bond.”
Sadly, after five cancer-free years, it returned. Joel relapsed. He continued to be positive and kept his spirits high, while undergoing the rigorous treatments once again. But this time it was different. Although his medical team put in a valiant effort, they could not keep the cancer at bay. Joel passed away in October of 2015 at the age of 16.
His family is still very much involved with Kids Cancer Care, often speaking at events and sharing the story of their brave young man. They explain the importance of research and support, and how one person can truly make a difference.