Ask any grandparent and they’ll tell you that grandchildren are the greatest joy in life. For Kimberley City Councillor Albert Hoglund and wife Lynne that joy has turned into more sorrow than they ever imagined.
Just a few weeks ago, on the May long weekend, their granddaughter Hadlie, who just turned three in March, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. Hadlie is the daughter of the Hoglunds’ son Matthew, an RCMP officer stationed in Grande Prairie, AB, and wife Sarah. She also has a brother, Kade, aged five.
The unbearable news is that Hadlie may only have a year left.
Rather than give in to the pain, the entire family has vowed to make as many memories as possible in the time Hadlie has left.
“Matthew and Sarah say that they are going to walk into Hadlie’s room every day and say, ‘What do you want to do today?’,” Albert said.
It all began, Albert says, when Hadlie’s parents noticed that one leg was weak. They thought at first she had injured it somehow. But then on the May long weekend they saw that she couldn’t hold a ball. They took her to the doctor and were immediately sent to the Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.
The news was grim. Hadlie has a DIPG tumour on her brain stem.
“It’s not operable,” Lynne said. “A DIPG tumour doesn’t respond to chemo. Radiation will only shrink it and she can only have six weeks of treatment.”
That treatment began this week.
But before radiation, Hadlie got to experience something she really wanted — a trip to Disneyland.
As soon as the diagnosis came in, fundraising began to help the Hoglund family fulfill all Hadlie’s wishes. That fundraising has already raised an astounding $102,000.
“They are overwhelmed by what’s happened,” Albert said. “A lot of the donations are anonymous.”
Albert says any money not used will be donated to organizations that are helping to care for Hadlie.
The trip to Disneyland last week was made possible through the Make a Wish Foundation. 21 family members, including Albert and Lynne, and friends, made the trip to California. Hadlie was given the princess treatment as soon as the family got on the airplane.
“WestJet was phenomenal,” Albert said. “When we got there WestJet employees met us with signs that said ‘Princess Hadlie.’ When we flew home, they were out on the tarmac on Hadlie’s side of the plane with goodbye signs.”
“Her wish was to be a princess,” said Lynne. “At Disneyland they took her to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and princessed her up.”
The trip was important for the whole family, Albert says, because they want to create a lot of memories for Hadlie’s brother Kade.
He says the RCMP has been incredibly supportive of Matthew, arranging for compassionate leave.
There are more plans in the works should Hadlie’s health allow it, including a trip to a major league baseball game.
Albert and Lynne will try to get up to see the family as often as possible and Matthew, Sarah and the kids are planning to come down and camp at Riverside in Kimberley if possible.
“It depends on how Hadlie is doing,” Albert said.
The Hoglunds say they are not appealing for funds as there has been more than enough raised.
“It’s not really money now,” Lynne said. “We are asking for prayers. Just pray, we need a miracle. And hug your kids. Support Children’s Hospital and support cancer research.”
“You always think it will happen to someone else,” Albert said.
Albert has fought cancer himself but it doesn’t even compare, he says.
“This is worse,” he said, his voice breaking. “So much worse.”