Grant Skalk

Grant Skalk

Dec 20, 1995 - Sept 16, 2011

  • Hometown: Calgary, Alberta
  • Year of Diagnosis: 2011
  • Diagnosis: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Grant was diagnosed on Feb 11, 2011 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 15. He had not been feeling well for a while but continued to play basketball, until one day he said he couldn’t play the second of a double-header. That was Monday Feb 7. We went to the clinic on Friday morning fearing that he had Mono. That evening at 8:15 we got the call that we needed to take him directly to the Children’s Hospital as there were abnormalities with his bloodwork, they feared it was Leukemia. Our fear was confirmed that evening and by Sunday Feb 13th, Grant had started his 3 ½ year treatment protocol.

Grant responded well to treatment, his amazing attitude and desire to kick this disease was inspiring, and the feeling that he would beat Cancer was never a question – he would. Grant was in remission within 3 weeks and our optimism soared. Despite the desire to go to school and visit with friends, he was isolated because of his immune compromised situation. He maintained contact by Skype and texting and although he was depressed at times, he always had a smile and a joke for the nurses and staff during his weekly treatment visits to the hospital. Grant had pneumonia in March but continued through the stages of his protocol and we looked forward to his grade 9 graduation and the summer.

In May he was feeling well enough to go to his Grad and was thrilled to spend time with his friends and be normal for one of the first times since his diagnosis. He was honoured with a Student of Distinction award in June and was thrilled with the prospect of heading to High School in September with the courses he had chosen.

In July we went on our annual camping trip after completing a series of High Dose Methatrexate admits to the hospital. We were excited to be with family and friends, and Grant lived life to the fullest that week. He biked, played football and volleyball with his sister Ali, and bought new skis for the next ski season- the future was looking bright.

We returned home and Grant attended his first Kids Cancer Care Camp with some trepidation. He had to meet all new people and his sister would not be with him, but his attitude remained positive and he returned home after camp with such enthusiasm. He was full of stories and joy about Camp Kindle. He wanted to become a counsellor in training and was overjoyed with the friends he had met, who understood what he was going through, and did not think it was strange when he had to go and have his chemo treatment every evening- that was normal for them. He was fairly sore but he chalked it up to the fact that he did everything at camp, the Giant Swing, Hiking (2 times to Sunseeker Cabin!) and dancing. He was animated and full of optimism.

Grant’s return from camp left him aching and when the pain didn’t subside we went to Emergency to search for medication that would get it under control. On August 15th we were given the horrible news that Grant’s leukemia had changed and now was Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The protocol was completely different and this would require hospitalization for the whole time – at least 3 months. We were devastated, Grant was in incredible pain and was placed in ICU for 2 weeks as he had breathing issues and numerous complications. Treatment started despite the fact that they could not control his pain. He did not respond well, the ability for his body to produce platelets was zero, and despite numerous transfusions daily, nothing worked. The fear was there was something else affecting his body, large bumps forming on his skin, but because he had no platelets, the risk of testing was too high as he could bleed out.

On September 15th, a punch biopsy was performed on one of the bumps and Grant was diagnosed with his 3rd Cancer- Skin Leukemia. There was no protocol in place for this and he would be on a trial drug. Grant passed away the next day, September 16, 2011 surrounded by family.

We remember Grant and his wonderful smirk, his laugh, his hugs and his concern for all living things. He lives on in our hearts and mind always.

Day by Day…..

Our Featured Ambassador

This is Josh Nelson – a childhood cancer survivor. He knows about facing all the challenges of childhood cancer:

“I know first-hand how it feels to be a prisoner in the hospital and endure the surgeries and the endless needles and treatments. I know how it feels to lose my hair, throw up regularly and watch other kids around me earn their wings. I lost a part of my childhood that I will never get back. I know how it feels to look different and to be different. That’s something that I wouldn’t wish for any other kid to go through, and that is why I do what I do.”

Read more about Josh’s journey »

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