When Alex learned that he had been approved for a wish through The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, he knew immediately exactly what he wanted to do. Less than a year after his diagnosis and subsequent treatment for Osteochondroma, a benign bone and cartilage tumor, Alex and family were en route to France. For Alex, a huge military and history buff, his wish trip was the perfect opportunity to visit the very spots where history was made. During their week long trip Alex, his Mom Kim, Step-Dad Alan and older sister Mary toured France, visiting every war memorial and historical site from Bordeaux to Dieppe, and everywhere in between.
In addition to his extensive knowledge of both world wars, Alex is an avid bagpipe player and is a Pipe Major in his school’s band. To make his wish experience complete, Alex played a bagpipe tribute at every single site they visited in honour of the countless lives lost.
For Alex’s family, this Remembrance Day has extra significance. It was on November 9th, last year that the family learned that, then seventeen year old Alex had a Thoracic Spinal Cord Tumor and would require immediate surgery. He was released from hospital pending surgery the following week and piped the very next day with his school band. Despite the looming surgery, Alex was adamant about paying tribute to Canada’s brave soldiers. Only six days after being diagnosed, he underwent surgery and most of the tumor was successfully removed. Although a very positive outcome, a portion of the tumor remains, putting him at great risk of developing spinal column instability that could require further spine surgery.
By honouring our nation’s fallen, his wish also allowed Alex and his family to celebrate life.
As the family prepares for local Remembrance Day tributes that Alex will be participating in, his Mom, Kim, can’t shake the images of Alex piping from her mind. “The time of year we travelled, most of these memorials were deserted. Every time Alex piped, it was a private, almost eerie moment where you really felt connected with the past; it was as if the past was listening.”