The Tucker family, from back left, Kadyn 11, mom Shawntel, Jorja 13, and dad Chris, Westyn 3, and Ethan, who will be 15 on Christmas Day, pose in their home. (CATHERINE ORTH/Special to The Recorder and Times)jpg, BT
Ethan Tucker cant swallow. He cant eat. He cant talk. He cant walk. His life as he knew it was taken away from him two years ago this coming January, shortly after his Christmas Day 13th birthday.
And now, a local developers generosity is helping to make his living conditions more bearable.
Ethan did not feel well. It took a couple of trips to the local hospital to find out that Ethan had an aggressive form of brain cancer. He underwent a 30-hour operation to remove only 10 per cent of the tumour, and later, a 17-hour operation that removed 90 per cent of the tumour.
But then, things went very sideways as Ethans body started to react after the fourth chemo treatment. It is believed that the chemo triggered an autoimmune reaction that attacked his brains stem cell. It took a lot to sort this out, but finally a procedure that cleansed Ethans blood fourteen times stopped the attack.
But the effects, by the time it was suppressed, were simply devastating to his body.
Still, Ethan is there, locked in his body, with an intelligent functioning mind that can spell out his thoughts on a word board.
If Ethan had one wish, it would be that he could sit at the table and eat regular food with his family. But he cannot.
This makes him very sad and sometimes he cries.
Ethan, is his familys treasure, their Christmas miracle, said dad, Chris, and mom Shawntel Tucker. They are his champions, his advocates. He is their hero.
They fought sometimes toe-to-toe with doctors who shook their heads and wanted to give up on Ethan. But Ethan did not want to give up. Nor did his parents.
Giving up is unthinkable, said Chris.
And so the family, with love and strength that comes almost mysteriously in these times of misfortune, took each day and adjusted to a new life.
Chris had to leave work and become a single dad to their other three children: Jorja 12, Kadyn, 11 and Westyn, 3. Shawntel moved into Ethans room at the Childrens Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). Westyn took his first steps in Ethans hospital room, which he called Ethans house.
Ethan is currently cancer-free and scheduled to go to inpatient rehab in Toronto in January.
Its not been easy. But no words of complaint or self pity are expressed by the Tuckers; love for their son and their young family has seen them through.
And generosity from the community.
We found it hard to ask for help, but it came to a point where we had no choice. Thats one thing I would say to any family going through a dramatic change of circumstances: Dont be afraid to ask for help; its there, said Shawntel.
Among the people who have been there for the Tuckers from the get-go is Michelle Robinson. Anyone who knows her will tell you she is a person of energy and ideas. She motivates and helps young parents to get their kids out doors through her Walk-A-Baby program.
The Facebook page Ethans Army and a GoFundMe account were put in place.
Ethan, after a thirteen-month stay at CHEO, was coming home. The Tuckers realized that they could not live in their home as it was. It had to be renovated. But even renovations, it was realized, would not address Ethans needs.
The decision was made to move. And again things fell into place. The Tuckers found a house on the outskirts of town that suited the family, who had always wanted to live in the country. The house, now purchased, required some renovations.
The Tuckers were pretty certain that if they got a team together they could work around schedules and get the renovations done.
Michelle put the call out on the Ethans Army page. It was answered, but not in the way they ever imagined.
Local developer Mapleview Homes, along with EXIT Realty Brockville, came forward to help in what Chris calls above and beyond and beyond. They took on the complete job and absorbed all costs, both materials and labour.
In the next few days, Ethan will have his own room, with all his needs: Laminated flooring for easy moving of his wheelchair, bed and lift in place; and barn doors that slide close for privacy or open to a view of the countryside.
The room was slightly modified and painted. Poignantly, Ethan had just been given his own room, in their former home, six months before he became ill. He will once again have his own room.
The Tuckers dont look back. They are moving forward as a family.
Chris has been able to return to work and has a part, as does daughter Jorja, in the local production of Broadway in Love, in February, presented by the Brockville Operatic Society.
Shawntel, now home, is actively again able to be mom to all her kids.
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