After 799 days, “Super” Weston Ireton has beaten cancer.
The North Island tyke, just two-years-old at the time, was diagnosed with leukemia back in August of 2018.
“He was sick for a couple days and we didn’t think much of it because he was only a couple years old and that’s how they are at that age,” said his dad, Adam.
He and his wife Kristen were supposed to play in a softball tournament in Port McNeill that weekend, but Adam said he decided to take Weston in for a quick check-up beforehand to “make sure he was okay and get some fluids pumped into him.”
That was when the local hospital ran some bloodwork and the tests came back suspecting Weston had leukemia.
The Ireton’s were flown down to Vancouver that very afternoon.
“We were in Vancouver at children’s [hospital] for a month or so, and then came back home and we travelled back and forth for treatment between Port Hardy and Vancouver every couple weeks for the next four months,” stated Adam, adding they ended up moving down to the Ronald McDonald house in Vancouver at the end of December of 2018.
“The logistics of it were very difficult — trying to figure out how to keep Beckett [their older son] here, running the store, maintaining the staff, all of those things,” reminisced Adam on the struggle to balance Weston’s treatments while running their local business back home. “Luckily Kristen’s parents were able to move up and stay here as well, so we had lots of help at home, but every aspect of it was super challenging.”
Adam and Kristen ended up splitting their time in Vancouver with Weston between them, one of them going down to Vancouver for a week at a time, while also bringing Beckett with them for visits to make sure they were able to have family time together.
As for how Weston reacted to being diagnosed with leukemia, Adam said he’s never really known anything different.
“This has really just been his life from the time he turned into being a person at two and a half, three-years-old, he’s had leukemia the whole time, so it’s been interesting to watch him deal with this and the way he’s grown up with it. He has a different sense of doctors and hospitals due to being poked and prodded so many times in ways other kids haven’t.”
Weston will be turning five in December and Adam noted it’s been amazing watching his personality grow over the years. “He’s a great kid, he laughs, he smiles, he dances, he does all the things kids do,” he said, adding that while Weston is cautious around doctors and hospitals, “the good news is that this happened to him young enough that if things go the way they’re supposed to, he won’t really remember much of it at all.”
With leukemia, doctors aim to destroy the disease within the first 30 days of treatment, and then after that there is two full years of ongoing treatment to make sure it never comes back.
“Weston is disease-free now, so we will be going into a period of checkups and things until he’s 18 — we’ll be going every three months for the first year, and then after that every six months, and then finally annual appointments until he’s 18-years-old,” Adam said, adding there’s no real handbook to follow after your child has been diagnosed, you just have to embrace all the help you can find and listen to your doctor’s advice.
Weston has been the North Island’s junior rider for the last three Tour de Rock rides, and this year was the first bike ride he was actually able to attend in person.
“The whole experience from Tour de Rock and Camp Goodtimes, we can’t say enough about,” Adam said, noting they had the chance last summer to actually attend Camp Goodtimes “and it really is everything you imagine it is. They do such a great job for all the kids with the activities.”
To celebrate Weston’s 799 days of treatment officially ending, a parade was held in Port Hardy on Sunday (Oct. 25), with 26 first responder vehicles and 44 private vehicles driving by Weston’s house and around Port Hardy.
Adam said they got the idea to do “a birthday type parade that we’ve seen during COVID, and I mentioned it to Chris Voller [Port Hardy RCMP] and he got all the police involved, ambulance, and the fire departments from both Port Hardy and Port McNeill. It was unbelievable, Weston loved it, he went crazy, dancing and waving the whole time, and it was a really great way to finish it for us.”
When asked if he had anything he wanted to say to the North Island communities, Adam was quick to say that he doesn’t think saying thank you is enough after all the support his family has received over the years.
“The support from the community has been absolutely unbelievable.”