Toy sale supports young cancer fighter

Donations welcome for fundraising toy sale Saturday, Nov. 26

Erin Abbott-Haines and Andrew Esser-Haines share a laugh with sons Mikhailo and Roane. Roane

Young Roane Abbott-Haines loves playing with trucks and diggers.

But toys of all manner will be on offer – in Roane’s name – at this weekend’s toy sale at Oak Bay’s Gonzales Preschool.

In August, Roane, who turns five next week, was diagnosed with ALL – acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

While this particular childhood cancer is not supposed to be hereditary, it was a diagnosis all-too familiar to Roane’s mom, Erin Abbott-Haines, a survivor who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 13.

While she lives with the long-term effects of the treatment, Erin says she was one of the first generation of survivors who benefited from changes in chemotherapy protocols. In 1960, the cure rate was about 25 per cent; by Erin’s diagnosis it rose to 75 per cent. Today, as son Roane receives treatment, the rate is about 95 per cent.

Despite her familiarity with the disease, the news came as a shock. Erin and dad Andrew Esser-Haines noticed Roane was not his usual busy self for about a week, and his doctor recommended a blood test.

“Within a couple of hours we got a phone call and we were on our way to Vancouver the next morning,” Erin says, recalling the mental fog that accompanies such a call. “It was like living in a movie that whole day.”

Today, despite the rigors of treatment, Roane’s cheerful personality remains. “He’s doing really well. He’s got everybody laughing,” Erin says from the hospital, where Roane plays with Lego nearby, waiting for his next treatment.

“We do a lot of Lego these days.”

One of the ongoing symptoms of Roane’s treatments is muscle fatigue and balance issues. Familiar with his mom’s need for occasional mobility aids, he’d asked about one for himself – no nearly five-year-old wants to ride in a stroller to the park, after all.

For his birthday, his parents hope to indulge Roane’s love for trucks and his need for mobility assistance with a motorized tractor, possible only with the help they’ve received from friends, loved ones and the Gonzales Preschool community, Erin says.

“Our preschool community has been outstanding; it’s been overwhelming,” she says, noting the go-fund-me page launched and many meals delivered to help the young family.

When news of Roane’s diagnosis and treatment reached his young friends – members of the “4s class of 2016” – the children put their heads together as to how they could help, says Kirsten Duncan, one of the organizers. “The children were trying to think of ways to help and they came up with a toy sale,” she says.

Community donations to the sale are both welcome and appreciated, and organizers encourage the community to come out and get an early start on their Christmas shopping – all in the name of a cheerful young boy and a good friend.

“He’s a total character,” Duncan says of Roane. “He’s fun and energetic when he’s well, and he loves trucks and diggers and being outside. He’s a very giving and kind little boy.”

Take in the toy sale from 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday, Nov. 26 at Gonzales Preschool, 2928 Eastdowne Rd., at St. Philip Anglican Church. Anyone with toys to donate can email fundraisingforroane@outlook.com for pick-up.