Jan. 29th, 2011

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Last April (2010) I met a little boy with dark brown eyes and the most wonderful, contagious laugh I had ever heard. He came from a remote Northern Indian reserve that I had never heard of before. The only things I knew about him was he had a really cool name, that he was 2 years old and that he had a nasty brain tumor.

His name is Wahbun. Wahbun Peters-Turtle.
He has a very aggressive type of tumor called Glioblastoma Multiforme. Being as young as he is, Wahbun has a chance of being able to overcome this tumor, and win the fight against cancer. The odds are not in his favor, but thankfully there is a chance.

Wahbun is from a remote northern reserve called Pikangikum First Nation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pikangikum_First_Nation
Pikangikum has a very high unemployment rate, as there really is no industry. From what I've read it seems that there is no central heating in the homes and only the "government" buildings have indoor plumbing. What it comes down to is the people there are living in conditions that no one would expect to see in a Canadian community. Because of the high unemployment rates the community really have limited resources to assist Wahbun's family.

Since April 1, 2010 the government agency NIHB (Non insured health benefits) had been assisting with funding for food and accommodations for Wahbun. They helped cover the costs for items and services that were not covered under our provincial health care coverage. On January 6, 2011 all assistance from this agency ended. They will no longer provide financial assistance to the family. Despite requests from the hospital physicians and social workers, the NIHB feels they have helped for as long as they can.
What this means is that they are completely and totally on their own when it comes to paying for food, shelter, medication and any assistive devices Wahbun may need.
I'm sure you can understand that with a 3 year old in the hospital, a 3 month old baby to care for, not speaking English as your first language, a toddler living back at home with family...things are overwhelming for this family. Now add to that mix trying to come up with funds to pay for food and lodging.
They are currently staying at Ronald McDonald House, and as long as Wahbun is an inpatient, his medications are covered. BUT, they do not want their son to have to live in a hospital. As any parent would they want him with them. When he is not an inpatient, any medications he needs to take on a daily basis are the parents responsibility to pay for.
The family has applied for Welfare assistance, but there will be many costs that are not covered by welfare, including some of his medications.
Ideally the family would like to try and get an apartment in Winnipeg so they can finally have a home to call their own after living in one room for the last 10 months.
As you can imagine things are pretty cramped with a family of 4 and all of their belongings in a small bedroom sized room. I know that's a goal, but that is not even their immediate concern. They just want to be able to survive, and provide what is needed for Wahbun.

I know this family personally and I know their need is real. The strength they have shown through this horrific journey they've been on over the last 10 months has been amazing.
When they left for Winnipeg they had to leave many of their belongings behind. All of the toys that were given to the children by Childcan were left. I have everything here so when they have a place to call home I can send it to them.
It was heart breaking the day they left for Winnipeg to see them in the lobby of the airport having to pick and choose which other items they would leave behind because it was $56 extra per suitcase if they were over weight. We have all of that stuff waiting for them as well. I can not imagine how difficult it was for them to have to make the decision to leave their photo album of Wahbuns almost year long battle with cancer behind! No one should have to do that.

Wahbun's dad calls him "Lil Warrior" and he truly is.
After his last surgery, he was sitting up and playing a video game within 2 hours of coming out of a 4 hour brain surgery!
He has left sided weakness, and has some difficulty walking, but he still tries. He falls down frequently, and can not get back up on his own, but that doesn't stop him.
He loves his bath time and if you could hear his laugh, you would be as hooked as I am. It comes straight from his belly and anyone that hears it can't help but laugh too.

Please, if you can, help this family. Feel free to share Wahbuns story by sharing the links to his pages.
Wahbuns mom has internet banking as well, so if you comment on Wahbuns Knet page, or facebook page, she will be more than grateful to pass that info along.

Also, I'd just like to remind the readers that English is not this families first language. They speak and write Ojibwe, and you will see some words on Wahbun's page that are not in english.

Please, help if you can. No amount is too small.

Here is my little buddy, Wahbun Peters-Turtle:


This picture was taken this past summer, before Wahbun's second surgery. He has the moon face and extra weight from being on high dose steroids to keep the swelling in his brain down.
This was during his Rice Krispies phase. Every time he came in for bloodwork or chemo, he'd go straight for the room where we keep the Rice Krispies. The day this picture was taken Wahbun had cried as he walked all the way down the hall to the supply room. The Rice Krispies are kept up on top of the fridge. I reached up and got a box down for him. As soon as I handed it to him he burst into the big smile you see in the picture.

Here is the link to Wahbuns Knet page: http://wahbunpetersturtle.myknet.org/
Knet is a social networking site for aboriginal people. Unfortunately the site goes down often. If you get the screen saying that it's not available, just try again. It'll come back up. :)
It is on this page that you really see the evolution of Wahbun's disease, and some shocking MRI images that show just how massive the effect of this tumor are on his brain.

Here is the link to the newspaper article (I love how Wahbun has cheese in his hand in the picture. He LOVES cheese, and the nurses would bribe him with it to get him to let them do what they needed to do)
http://www.wawataynews.ca/node/20852

And lastly, here is the link to his facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Lil-Warrior/159288267426203


Please share Wahbun's story. This family really needs the kindness of strangers right now.

Thank you.

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March 2011

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