Written by Megan Solberg
The Entwistle household is a full one. Jason and Sheri, their four daughters – Madi, Brooklyn, Piper, and Jordyn – and their two enormous dogs, Duke and Otis, fill their home with a lot of love, good humour, and gratitude. The conversation is non-stop and might be hard to follow for an outsider; it is jam-packed with inside jokes, fond memories, and funny anecdotes, and they seem to be able to read one another’s minds as they move rapidly from one story to the next. In the midst of this entertaining banter, it becomes clear that a current favourite topic of conversation is the family’s upcoming vacation to Florida in February 2020.
Thanks to The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, the Entwistle family will be traveling to DisneyWorld and Universal Studios. Children’s Wish is dedicated to fulfilling the wishes of Canadian youth between the ages of 3 and 17 who have been diagnosed with life-threatening and terminal illnesses. Since their establishment as an organization over thirty years ago, Children’s Wish has granted wishes to over 250,000 children across Canada.
In the spring of 2016, Brooklyn mentioned pain in her leg. As Brooklyn was 10 at the time, and she was tall for her age, these pains were initially thought to be straightforward growing pains. However, the pain persisted over the next few days, and Brooklyn was incredibly pale and tired – and then she noticed a bump in her leg. After an x-ray and an appointment with a specialist at Royal University Hospital, the pain in her leg was identified to be either an aggressive tumor or infection. Brooklyn was given crutches, and she was told to stay off her leg while they determined the next course of action.
The next day, Brooklyn fell while on her crutches and broke her femur, which put her in a Spica cast (from her chest to her ankle). After a series of tests, including two biopsies, an MRI, a CT scan, a bone scan, and a bone marrow extraction over the next several days, Brooklyn was officially diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, also known as bone cancer.
The next several months were a blur of treatments and surgeries for Brooklyn. Much of her time was spent traveling from Saskatoon to the Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, and that meant spending a lot of time away from her sisters. Sheri recognizes that this separation was especially hard on Brooklyn and her twin sister, Piper. “The girls are very close,” she says. “I think they are happy now that Brooklyn doesn’t have to be in Edmonton, and they’re really just enjoying being together again.”
After seemingly countless rounds of chemotherapy, as well as 20 blood and platelet transfusions, Brooklyn had Rotationplasty surgery, in which her leg was amputated above her knee. Her shin and foot were rotated 180 degrees and then reattached to her femur; Brooklyn’s foot is now her knee joint. Brooklyn and Sheri look at each other and laugh about the first few days after the surgery. “Everything was backwards!” Brooklyn can hardly contain her giggles. “I would tell my foot to go one way, but it would go the opposite because that’s what it was used to. Everything makes sense now, but it was weird having to re-teach myself how to move my leg.”
Today, Brooklyn, now 12, is cancer-free. She’s active in basketball and volleyball, plays in the school band, loves spending time with her family, and is ready to decide which high school she will be attending next year. Most of all, she can’t wait for her trip to DisneyWorld with her family. She has always loved Disney, and her favourite character is Chip from Beauty and the Beast; choosing a favourite movie is almost impossible for Brooklyn because she loves so many of them.
What’s she looking forward to most about the trip? A series of voices erupt excitedly around the table when the question is asked; it seems as though everything about the upcoming trip is exciting for the whole family. Brooklyn and Piper can’t wait for Harry Potter World at Universal Studios, and Brooklyn is also excited for the Universal Studios tour. Jordyn, who is 7, says she is most excited to meet all the characters at DisneyWorld – although, she then corrects herself by adding “Actually, I can’t wait for the whole trip!”
When asked what she is most excited about for the trip, Sheri says that she just can’t wait to see the smiles on all of her kids’ faces.
“Brooklyn has been through so much,” she adds. “She has overcome so many challenges, and our family feels incredibly fortunate that she is still here. And the support that we’ve had from the community and from Children’s Wish has made us feel so lucky.”
In 2019, K+S Potash Canada announced a $225,000 gift to Children’s Wish Foundation, Saskatchewan Chapter so that they can continue doing what they do best: granting young children the opportunity to realize their greatest wishes, and providing hope and joy to deserving families in our province.