Schools rally behind Gordon Head teen

Saanich students raise funds for Kiera O’Connor who was diagnosed with nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma

Sixteen-year-old Kiera O’Connor stands in the hall of Gordon Head middle school. Both her current school

Sixteen-year-old Kiera O’Connor stands in the hall of Gordon Head middle school. Both her current school

Kiera O’Connor’s summer was all planned when she finally showed a doctor a stubborn lump in her thigh.

The first doctor she saw referred her for an ultrasound that was going to take six months. But her step-mom had a hunch. She called the ultrasound clinic and was able to get O’Connor in within a week.

They weren’t given the results but the look on the ultrasound clinician’s face said it all, O’Connor said.

“Once the family doctor gave me the results, all I heard was something about [additional] tests and to set up a visit to B.C. Children’s Hospital, and it all became a blur. My whole life’s been a blur since.”

By mid-June, at 15 years of age, O’Connor was diagnosed with nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma.

That was it for her summer plans. O’Connor cancelled out of the two-week school trip to Europe she’d been fundraising for since last year. And she opted out of a summer job working with international exchange students at Saint Michaels University School.  Instead, she started chemotherapy and got used to bunking at Ronald McDonald House.

O’Connor is now 16 and is nearly finished her third and final round of chemotherapy and the results are positive. A PET scan suggested the cancer is shrinking and there is much hope she won’t need further radiation.

“The message I want to share is for kids to listen to their body,” O’Connor said. “The lump didn’t go away, and got worse, and it was already in three lymph nodes by the time I was diagnosed with Stage 1 cancer. If I had waited six months [for an ultrasound] I could very well be Stage 4.”

Though the Gordon Head teen was extremely positive from the start, she wasn’t without her doubts.

After each day of chemo session she’s on a cocktail of meds to help control the extreme nausea and vomiting for seven to nine days after, said her step-mom Lisa. She is usually in bed for five days after as well.

There’s been some bright spots, on her 16th birthday Oak Bay Beach Hotel provided O’Connor with a spa visit, pool visit and lunch.

Even the physical toll of chemotherapy and the cocktails of serious medications that are needed to help a patient through cancer treatment are not enough to keep her spirits down.

And it’s contagious.

O’Connor’s former school, Gordon Head middle, and her current school, Mount Douglas secondary, are both holding a series of fundraisers.

During a recent visit to Gordon Head Kiera felt like a rock star, giving out dozens of hugs while receiving positive well wishes and handmade cards.

This week at Gordon Head is Kaps for Kiera, where students can pay for the right to wear a hat, thereby superseding the school’s no-hat policy. On Thursday, staff and students will provide coffee (by donation) during the morning drop-off. And on Oct. 31, Gordon Head will hold a head-shave assembly at which O’Connor will shave the head of teacher Alex de Medeiros. Her 19-year-old brother Kyle O’Connor is getting the chance to come back to school and shave the head of principal Kevin Luchies (who were recently student and principal at Lambrick Park secondary).

Mount Douglas also held Kaps for Kiera this week, in which students are wearing hats, and passing around a hat to collect money toward the campaign.

There is also a GoFundMe page, which is well over its $2,500 target, and offers a 2016 U.S. Open golf tournament flag signed by winner Dustin Johnson, and a $1,000 home alarm system from Beacon Security Systems.

The money is not for the O’Connor family, rather, O’Connor has asked it be split 50-50 between the B.C. Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.

 

Just Posted

The Town of Sidney supports efforts to rename Reay Creek to KELSET, its traditional SENCOTEN name. (Black Press Media file photo)
Town of Sidney signs off on Reay Creek name change to KELSET

Name change does not affect surrounding parkland, but public supports doing so

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

Norman Mogensen sets up strings for his beans in his plot in the Oak Bay community gardens. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay gardener spends decades cultivating, improving daddy’s beans

85-year-old vegan part of the community gardens scene

The Pool at the Esquimalt Rec Centre. (Courtesy of theTownship of Esquimalt/ Facebook)
Esquimalt Rec Centre restarting everyone welcome swim times later this month

The 90-minute sessions will be on select evenings and weekends

Theatre SKAM is offering mobile, pop-up performances to Greater Victoria residents once again this summer. They’ll feature emerging artists Yasmin D’Oshun, Courtney Crawford, Kaelan Bain and Kendra Bidwell (left to right). (Courtesy of Theatre SKAM)
Theatre performances can be ordered to Greater Victoria front yards this summer

Theatre SKAM offering mobile, pop-up performances once again

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read