GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. -- The final wishes of dying toddler are being granted thanks to her family, friends and even total strangers on social media.
It started out as a limp three weeks ago, just your average childhood bump or scrape, parents Sarah and Matthew Hoglund thought. But when the limp worsened, they knew something was seriously wrong with their three-year-old daughter Hadlie.
“Instead of just limping, her leg would just give out. So she could be standing and then it would almost hyperextend,” Matthew said.
A head CT scan detected a three-centimetre growth on her brain stem -- a DIPG tumour. Cancer.
The Hoglunds said the doctor told them there were four stages, and Hadlie is in the third, aggressive stage. Because of the location of the tumour, doctors are unable to operate.
"Everything that controls your entire body goes through the brain stem and because of the nature of the tumour...it’s grown in through the tissues and it’s in the middle of her brain stem so even just doing the biopsy is too risky,” Sarah said.
Hadlie’s condition was deemed terminal, leaving her with a few months, maybe a year with her family. Hadlie will be able to have radiation therapy, but that will only delay the growth of the tumour.
Determined to make sure his little girl has as many fun-filled memories as possible while she’s still able to, Matthew took to social media -- Facebook and fundraising website Indiegogo.com -- asking for help from his friends, family and the community to make Hadlie’s every wish come true.
“What we plan to do is wake up every day, walk into her room and ask her 'What do you want to do today?' and fulfill every sentence that comes out of her mouth, whether it’s go golfing, whether it’s go to a new park or whatever, that’s what we’re going to do,” Matthew said. “We just want her to smile every day, and we’re going to take advantage of every day, we’re not going to waste anything.”
There are many things the couple would like to do as a family while they can.
“My goal is to make Christmas and then the next goal is to get to March and watch her turn four,” he said. “Anything after that will be an absolute bonus.”
Since starting the fundraiser for his daughter, people from all over the region, the country and even outside of Canada have come together to help raise $69,823 as of Tuesday afternoon.
“It just took off like crazy,” he said. “It went beyond what either of us had ever expected.”
The Make-a-Wish Foundation also stepped forward, providing Hadlie and her family a trip to Disneyland later this week. After the trip, Hadlie will begin her radiation treatment.
Hoglund said he wants to express his gratitude to everyone who had made a contribution.
“It’s just amazing,” he said. “The strength that we got from that, I think, was phenomenal, just because it kind of gives you that sense of something special is happening, and maybe that will transition over to Hadlie and something special will happen.”
Updates on Hadlie’s condition, and all her wish list items as they are fulfilled, will be documented on her Facebook page at facebook.com/hadliesbucketlist.
The family also said whatever funds are left when Hadlie passes away will be donated to an organization that helped care for their daughter, such as the Stollery Children’s Hospital.