Thursday , 13 May 2021

Family celebrates early Christmas for terminally ill daughter

Kelsey Waskahat’s family is raising money to celebrate what could possibly be the last few weeks of the 7-year-old’s life.

On Saturday, Kelsey’s family held an early Christmas after she was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) brain cancer in Frog Lake.

Jarrett and Amber Waskahat, Kelsey’s parents, who are from Onion Lake, love throwing a large family-oriented Christmas for their kids every year.

“The early Christmas is to show her that it’s not a goodbye. It’s a celebration,” said Kelsey’s auntie, Morningstar Roy.

The idea for an early Christmas came from Kelsey’s grandpa, Glen Waskahat.

DIPG is found in an area of the brainstem known as the pons.

It is a rapid growing cancer that mainly occurs in children ages 5-9.

This type of brain cancer makes up for approximately 10-15 per cent of all brain tumors in children.

There have only been three cases of DIPG in children in Saskatchewan, Kelsey being the third.

Family members put together a gofundme account called Early Christmas for Kelsey to raise money for the event.

“We all know that she’s not going to make it to Christmas,” said Morningstar.

The support that has been pouring in shocked them.

“The original donation amount that we had was $1,000 and we raised that in an hour and seven minutes,” noted Kelsey’s uncle, Grant Roy.

The amount then went up to $5,000 which was also surpassed, and has now been raised to $10,000.

Money donated will be used to fund any activities Kelsey wants to do such as going swimming, going to West Edmonton Mall, and having Christmas in the fall.

Within one day, Frog Lake Community Hall was booked, cotton candy machines and bouncy castles were donated, Christmas decorations were brought together, and the idea came to life.

The gofundme donations at 4:18 p.m. Thursday evening

Kelsey & the Waskahats

Kelsey is known by family members to be a makeup loving, selfie taking, outgoing old soul.

“She’s very traditional in her ways of living. They call her the old lady because she’s bossy,” Grant said with a laugh.

Kelsey’s kindergarten graduation. Courtesy: Morningstar Roy.

Kelsey celebrated her 7th birthday on August 1st.

Jarrett and Amber are doing their best to make her wishes come true in the short amount of time that she has.

“She’ll never say that she’s in pain. She’ll never say that she’s sore. She just wants to be a kid and that’s what she’s doing. She has that smile, she’s full of life right now,” mentioned Morningstar.

The hospital is setting up a Make a Wish for her but she has not yet decided what her wish will be.

All she knows is that her wish will not just be for her, but it will include her family as well.

The Diagnosis

On September 3, Kelsey’s parents Jarrett and Amber Waskahat noticed their daughter was not acting like herself.

“She started to stumble, she started to not act like herself. She was slurring, she was quiet, she couldn’t keep her balance,” said Morningstar.

The family visited the Lloydminster Hospital first to find out that Kelsey has a brain tumour, however, doctors believed it was operable.

Doctors at a hospital in Saskatoon did a second MRI only to discover that was not the case.

The Waskahat’s had the choice to either give their daughter radiation or to take her home.

After hearing the side effects of radiation or chemo, Jarrett and Amber decided they did not want to see their daughter suffer.

“This is their choice and as a family we respect that choice for them and all we can do is support them.”

Kelsey is on strong steroids that are meant to extend her life a little bit longer.

After two weeks, the dosage will go down and the cancer will most likely get stronger according to Waskahat’s doctors and counsellors.

“They said that she could stay alive for a month.”

Doctors speculated a short timeline for Kelsey, however there is no way for them to have a solid time frame for her family to go off of.

During Kelsey’s time at home, she has a nurse on call 24/7 from Onion Lake Health Care.

Family members asked that the Christmas event only include family members.

Donations can be made on the gofundme page, Early Christmas for Kelsey.

Written by Montana Getty. 

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.