Early in 2020, a few days into the Petersen family’s holiday to Mexico, Scott and Erin’s son Chase began complaining of being much more tired than usual. A few days later, Scott and Erin noticed bruising on his body. After bringing him into the hotel clinic, they were sent to an emergency room in Mexico, hoping to find answers to explain what was making their son sick. After hours of tests and conversations between staff in a language they could barely understand, the parents made out the word, “Leukemia”, a diagnosis that would lead to many dark and difficult days ahead.
YANA was the first call the Petersen’s made, and immediately they knew they wouldn’t be alone. The family made their way from Mexico to Vancouver, terrified about the future but knowing that YANA was arranging things on the other side. The Petersen’s spent the next 11 months in Vancouver supported by YANA and housed close to the hospital in a YANA apartment that soon became known as their “Vancouver Cabin”. It felt like a home away from home and a refuge from the long, difficult days at the hospital. It was a place where Chase was safe, his family and siblings could visit, and it was a reminder of their incredible community back home, making sure they were carried all the way through.
Chase and his family continue to make regular trips to Vancouver and to the apartment. Many days are still dark, difficult, and full of more tests, pokes, and treatments than any 9-year-old boy should ever know. Chase’s cancer journey may not be through, but the loving support of their community is steady and continues to hold them up.
Chase’s story was first shared at the Big Love Benefit on February 26, 2021 where supporters in the Comox Valley and beyond came together virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic to raise an amazing $175,000 for local families. Photography, production and presentation courtesy of Karen McKinnon of McKinnon Photography. Original music written and produced by Andrea Rose. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Corwin Fox.