Martin Delage admits the emotions are only now beginning to surface for he and his wife Alicia.
While the news that their 11-year-old son Wyatt’s cancer treatment was successful and that he was in complete recession is overwhelming, only now are the title wave of emotions they mostly buried coming to the surface.
The Barrie couple’s focus was on the daily things needed to help their son through this battle.
“I had more trouble after we found he was OK than before,” he admits. “I really think it was because we buried our emotions until we knew everything was going to be OK.”
The world changed suddenly when the family of six got the news that Wyatt had been diagnosed with stage 3 Mature B Cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after a mass had appeared on his abdomen.
Wyatt, who loved hockey and his teammates on the Barrie Rockbrune Bros. Movers Minor Peewee ‘AAA’ Colts required aggressive chemotherapy treatments.
“To be honest with you, we struggled more, or the same amount, since we got the news that he’s going to be OK, than since we got the news when he was diagnosed with this,” the father explained. “We’ve kind of blocked the emotions out through the whole process that we were at the (Toronto Hospital for Sick Children). Leading up to his diagnosis was really difficult and then when he was diagnosed we kind of prepared for the worst.
“When we started, we were just kind of focused on treatment and now that he’s had a successful treatment, everything is kind of coming out and we’re fighting with these emotions all over again even though technically we should be ecstatic. It’s almost like we need to catch up on everything we buried.”
Martin and Alicia received the great news their son had complete remission after he had surgery on Feb. 6 to remove the cancer they thought was left over.
When the surgeon met them in the consulting room to let them know all went fine, he also said they found none of the cancer and only scar tissue.
“We both looked at each other and I think that’s when we knew it was all gone,” he said.
After a couple of days, they got confirmation from the oncologist.
“We’re very optimistic and we couldn’t be happier that he was able to finish so quickly,” said Delage, who noted the Wyatt is still going through another round of chemotherapy he started on Feb. 13 and will continue over the next six days.
Wyatt’s treatments were initially expected to carry though until June.
“Nobody knows this, the recovery period between treatments was supposed to be three to four weeks and that’s how they put him into June,” Martin said. “He recovered after two weeks every time. That’s how we got through this even faster, so that was a huge part of it.
“I haven’t asked him why they think that happened, but we’ll leave it up in the air.”
While watching their son go through the treatments wasn’t easy, he amazed them with his courage and strength through it all.
“He took all the chemo, he did all the checkups,” Delage said. “He let so many people do what they needed to do to his body and he didn’t complain once about it. Some of it hurt and some of it he really didn’t like, but not once did he put up a fuss where it was going to be a problem.
“From that aspect it not only made it easier on his doctors, but for us to not see him struggle with any of this. He was certainly willing to do what he had to get through this.”
Martin couldn’t help but laugh out loud when asked if Wyatt has always been one to get done what is needed.
“Within reason,” the father said. “He still doesn’t eat healthy. We try to get him to eat a vegetable, but that’s a bigger problem than getting him to give blood.
“He’s always been a kid that will work hard. . . but he’s still a kid.”
What has also been a blessing for Martin, Alicia and Wyatt’s siblings Macey, Hudson and Luke has been the support they’ve received from family, friends, the hockey team and the hockey community in Barrie and throughout the province.
Delage said any kind of stress outside of the hospital for a family can be compounded 10- or even 20-fold.
The support they got through numerous fundraisers that helped ease financial burdens and the outpouring of various other ways of support is something they will never forget.
“The ability to minimize our stress and not have to worry about anything through all of this made a huge difference,” said Delage, who along with Alicia also wanted to create more awareness around cancer and is thankful for the media attention they received.
“There were a couple of times where we had to worry about other things and it was super stressful, so having to work about bigger things I can’t imagine how difficult that would have been if we didn’t have that support,” he added. “That was a huge, huge part in all of this.”
Wyatt will continue to be tested to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned. Martin knows that, at the end of the day, it’s not 100 per cent guaranteed that his cancer is not coming back in the next six months, so anything they have left over they’ve put in a different account where it’s going to sit and once Wyatt clears certain kind of milestones they can release the money and start to give back as well.
One of the things the couple has struggled with is that some families at Sick Kids don’t have the support they have.
“We kind of have a green light saying our son will be OK, but we’re still here doing another round of chemo to finish up and we still struggle watching people who aren’t as fortunate and then we feel even more that we want to give back,” he said, fighting back his emotions. ”
Delage says Wyatt misses hockey, but knows he probably wasn’t going to return to playing serious hockey this year.
“The closest thing he gets to hockey right now is playing Fortnite with his hockey teammates,” Delage said, adding a chuckle.
Once Wyatt gets through with his chemo, as long as he doesn’t have any negative side effects, he should be able to go home the next day or maybe, if he’s lucky, the same day he’s finished.
“That’s our goal anyway,” Delage said. “He’s still has to be careful because he’s going to have a few weeks of him getting his blood counts up to a safe level. We’re going to try and do that at home.”
The couple look forward to the day when all the family is home.
“The day we go back home, that will be a big day,” Delage admits.
Then they can get back to getting Wyatt to eating his vegetables.
“Then we can start the new battles, right?,” Delage asked, before laughing out loud.
photo: After being diagnosed with stage 3 Mature B Cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in early December after a mass had appeared on his abdomen, Barrie Colts ‘AAA’ Minor Peewee defenceman Wyatt Delage and his parents were given great news last week that 11-year-old is in complete remission. Submitted photo.