A Calgary family is paying it back by paying it forward for Giving Tuesday

Parents of five-year-old cancer survivor ask Calgarians to start the holiday giving season with a donation to charity on Giving Tuesday

By Krista Sylvester | November 28, 2021 |11:00 pm

Terra, son Sebastian, and husband Nathan Knutson, are asking Calgarians to donate to Kids Cancer Care for Giving Tuesday. All gifts made by November 30 will be matched up to $100,000 by six generous philanthropists.

Photo: Submitted

For some people, Giving Tuesday is about choosing their favourite charity and donating a little extra cash. 

For others, like the Knutsen family, it’s about paying it back to an organization that was there for them when they needed it most. 

Five-year-old cancer survivor Sebastian (Bash) and his parents Terra Carnie and Nathan Knutson are raising much-needed funds and awareness for Kids Cancer Care, the Calgary-based charity that helped them through their cancer crisis.

How their journey began 

“Kids Cancer Care was there for us at the beginning of our journey during our lengthy stay at the hospital,” Carnie says. 

It all started in 2016 when Bash was just six-months-old during a family Christmas trip to Saskatchewan. 

That’s when their son’s first Christmas was disrupted when a trip to emergency revealed he had high-risk infant B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Three days later, Bash was airlifted home to Calgary where he began a gruelling treatment regime.

“It was the worst day of my life. I have never felt so helpless, so overwhelmed, or so much heartache all at once,” she says. 

“When we met with the care team in Calgary to discuss his diagnosis and treatment plan, we learned that he had a 40 to 50 per cent survival rate five years post-diagnosis. That was a blow.”

The gruelling days of treatment 

In his first year of life, Bash spent 152 days in the hospital, enduring 57 days of intravenous chemotherapy, 49 dressing changes for his central line and more than 640 blood thinner injections to manage a blood clot that developed. 

He also underwent six bone marrow biopsies, 10 surgeries for lumbar punctures and central line changes, 27 blood transfusions and 50 visits to the outpatient clinic along with multiple additional tests and procedures.   

“It doesn’t sound like much, it’s just a pizza night but their Wednesday pizza nights became an opportunity for us to enjoy a bit of normalcy,” Knutsen says. 

“When we were in the hospital, we were stuck in an isolated room for months. It’s so hard to be stuck in the hospital all day to find time to prepare a meal that is from the cafeteria or the same one you’ve had all week.” 

Finding solace in the Kids Cancer Care Community 

It also gave the family a chance to be surrounded by other families enduring similar circumstances.

“Once we were done with treatment and kind of past beating cancer, we were so fortunate we could focus on Sebastian being a little boy again, interacting with other people that weren’t a doctor poking and prodding him,” Knutsen says. 

“Kids Cancer Care has supported us through every stage of Bash’s cancer journey and their support hasn’t stopped because his treatment has,” Carnie adds. 

That’s why the family is sharing their childhood cancer journey for Giving Tuesday to raise funds, so other families can receive the support they need, too. 

How you can help this Giving Tuesday 

Bash and his parents are encouraging people to donate to Kids Cancer Care for Giving Tuesday on November 30.

“I hope we can continue to raise awareness of childhood cancer and help Kids Cancer Care provide as much support to others as we received,” Carnie says. 

The matching donors are Gary Nissen, Fire and Flood Emergency Services, Steven and Lorna Collicutt, Rodney and Karen McCann, PBA Group of Companies and Enerplus.

Every donation received on or before November 30 will be matched dollar for dollar to a maximum of $100,000.

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Krista Sylvester

Managing Editor at Calgary Citizen

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