Boy is on the road to recovery following leukemia diagnosis

Youngster from Oak Bay’s Gonzales Preschool is in remission following chemotherapy

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

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

A five-year-old boy is on the road to recovery after being diagnosed with leukemia last year.

Roane Abbott-Haines is in remission after receiving two phases of treatment, which included oral and injection chemotherapy at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver over the last few months.

Most recently, he wrapped up the third phase, which included medication and two months of chemo where he was at Victoria General Hospital every 10 days.

Roane’s father Andrew said the first month of treatment was especially hard on the youngster and the family of four, both physically and emotionally. Roane spent most days in bed and in pain.

However, during the last few phases of treatment, Roane’s spirits lifted. He became more active and wanted to play more, especially with his collection of toy trucks, backhoes and a large electric tractor that he can ride around in – things his father said he loves.

“The doctors are very pleased with his progress in terms of progression towards cure,” Andrew said.

But there have been side effects from the medication. Roane has consistent leg pain, which wakes him up at night sometimes, and suffers from nausea. Andrew admits Roane has also become more emotional and gets angrier faster and isn’t the same child he was before the diagnosis.

“Erin (my wife) and I just need to give up the image that we had of him because he’s going to be a different boy after this. What we knew of his temperament and way of being in the world is going to be dramatically changed by this and we need to get to know what he’s going to be like after this,” Andrew said.

“It’s a sad realization for us, but at the same time he’s young enough that we can get to know our son again in a whole new light.”

The last few months have been a roller coaster for the young family.

Roane was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August and within days, the family packed up and were on their way to B.C. Children’s Hospital for treatment.

It was an especially heartbreaking diagnosis for Roane’s mother Erin, who battled the same form of cancer two decades ago when she was 13 years old.

Since then, the community has rallied behind the family.

A number of people set up fundraisers to help cover the cost of living expenses and food as Roane and the family travelled back and forth from the Mainland.

Friends from Gonzales Preschool, where Roane attended, held a toy sale in November that raised $1,600 – something Andrew said they’re incredibly grateful for.

An online fundraising campaign, which is still active, has also raised more than $27,000.

Life continues to be challenging for Roane and his parents still worry about the affects the treatment will have on his long-term health. But both are still thankful there is a long-term to worry about.

“The fact that we can think about long-term health is a good thing,” Andrew said, adding more funding is needed to support childhood cancer research, which only receives a small portion of cancer research funding in both Canada and the United States.

This month, Roane continues chemotherapy and in April, will hopefully move on to three years of maintenance to ensure the cancer doesn’t grow.

To donate to the campaign visit GoFundMe and search Roane’s Medical Fund by Erin Orion.