Kamloops boy managing cancer selling iced tea for Terry Fox fundraiser

Boy with cancer fundraises

Terry Fox would likely be a fan of Cai McLean.

The six-year-old Sahali boy is managing both cancer in his spinal cord and an iced tea stand; the latter is a fundraiser for the Terry Fox Run.

"It was my idea to do the iced tea stand for the Terry Fox fundraiser," Cai tells Castanet.

"We’ll do one more on the day of the Terry Fox Run," he says.

The Terry Fox Run is a big deal for him and his family; it's always held right around his birthday and Terry Fox is a hero of his. 

"'Because I have cancer myself and I need to fight it and sometimes I need to do stuff and push really hard."

Last year, Terry Fox Run participants sang to Cai as he turned five.

"They sang me happy birthday because it was my birthday," he says.

He also ran the five-kilometre version of the course.

"I’m going to do that this time, too," he adds, excitedly.

Each year Cai and his family ('Team Cai') raise money for the Terry Fox Run. How much depends on how old he is; this year the goal is $600, because he's six. 

"(This year), we aimed for $600 and we got a lot more than double that," Cai says.

The young boy was diagnosed with cancer at 11 months, when doctors found it in his neck, along his spinal cord.

At 15 months, he had surgery, but it didn't get rid of all the cancer. Since then he's been managing it with modern medicine. Unfortunately, it's left him with some damage; his right arm and leg are weaker than his left (Terry Fox himself lost his right leg to cancer).

"My medicine is getting rid of the cancer but even though it’s getting rid of the cancer the damage is forever," Cai says.

To manage the remaining cancer, Cai has to fast for six hours each day and go through chemo twice a day. His mother, Amie, notes the new chemo therapies are experimental versions and "have been making all the difference."

The family moved to Kamloops when Cai's father Brett was also diagnosed with cancer in 2018. Since he grew up here, there was a support network that could help out with his infant daughter and Cai. Brett's in remission now.

Besides the iced tea stand and an online campaign, Team Cai is also running a bottle drive at the Sahali General Grants. Those wishing to donate their bottles to the cause can drop off their cans and bottles. Just inform staff they're for 'Team Cai.'

In the meantime, you can get your hands on a cup of iced tea on Sept. 20, when the iced tea stand returns.

"We’ll have our iced tea stand at 2471 Briarwood Ave.," Brett says.

It'll run from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Pandemic precautions will be in place, including hand sanitizer on site and a self-serve system.

"Dan said our iced tea stand is the best iced tea stand in town," Cai says.

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