The Bellows family on vacation last year in Mexico. L-R: Angel, Ryan, Darrel, Grace and Michael. (Photo submitted)

The Bellows family on vacation last year in Mexico. L-R: Angel, Ryan, Darrel, Grace and Michael. (Photo submitted)

Rimbey community rallying behind family after cancer diagnosis

Michael Bellows, 12, a ‘strong, resilient kid’ says father

For one Rimbey family, September brought more than the start of a new school year in an uncertain time due to the ongoing pandemic.

Michael Bellows, who will be turning 13 next month, had a little bit of a cough for a couple of weeks, had lost some weight and just didn’t look well, says his father Darell Bellows.

On Sept. 13, his stepmother Angel Reck decided it was time to have him checked out and took him to emergency at the Rimbey hospital.

Although COVID-19 had to be ruled out first, it was soon discovered that his white blood cell count wasn’t what it should be.

He was sent to the Stollery Children’s Hospital that day where he was placed in isolation until a second COVID-19 test was done.

After several tests, the diagnosis was every family’s worst nightmare: cancer. Michael has stage 4b Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Although Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is one of the most curable types of cancer, the ‘4b’ denotes that the cancer has spread to other organs that are further away from the original cancer.

Darell says it was likely a “blessing in disguise” that Angel had been working from home more lately, as it likely made it possible for her to notice the subtle symptoms, as he had been trucking away from home at the time and wouldn’t have known.

Now, just a month later, Michael has completed two of five rounds of chemotherapy, though more chemo may be necessary beyond that, depending on how the cancer responds.

At the beginning of each chemo cycle, Michael stays at the Stollery, then he can be home for 13 days, and does a day trip back to the hospital near the end of the cycle, before the next round begins.

It’s been difficult for the whole family, including Michael’s twin brother Ryan and their older sister Grace.

The days that Michael is home, his family and doctors want him to maintain as normal of a life as possible, says Darell.

which means, despite going through chemo, Michael has been attending school in Grade 7.

He’s been “gung ho” to go to class, and see his friends, which he had just started reconnecting with, as he hadn’t seen them since March.

He’s missed a couple of days of school when he just wasn’t feeling well enough, but “tries to stay strong,” says Darell.

“He’s a pretty strong, resilient kid that way.”

About a week ago, Michael’s hair began to fall out and his dad shaved his head with him in solidarity for what he’s going through.

“I told him, ‘Nobody goes through this alone,’ and that he didn’t have to feel awkward, which he doesn’t at all.”

The Bellows have had times were they were unemployed or underemployed during COVID-19, and all the while cost of living is going up, and there are costs associated with Michael’s treatment, such as travel and accommodations when Ronald MacDonald House or Papa Ken’s Cancer Society is full, says Darell.

Bellows says the government assistance provided for caregivers “doesn’t add up” too much, either.

Both Darell and Angel have taken time off of work to help care for Michael as well, leaving them with little income.

While it’s hard to ask for help, Bellows says he’s glad he lives in a community that’s supported his family through it all — through losing his first wife, and his children’s mother in 2016, to Michael’s recent diagnosis.

The support from the community has been felt, then and now.

A GoFundMe set up by Darell’s cousin Amanda Mercredi has reached nearly $10,000. The Rimbey A&W where Grace works is holding a fundraiser, and friends are putting on a Halloween event and silent auction.

“It’s overwhelming, to put it bluntly,” said Darell.

“Once again, here we are needing help and everyone is helping out again.”

The initial GoFundMe goal was $10,000, but Mercredi says she’s raising that, as the treatment may be a long road.

“The community response has been great, the generosity of our small community never ceases to amaze me,” she said.

“I hope we can continue to rally around Michael and his family as they’ve already been through so much.”

To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-mikey-and-bellows-family.

CancerRimbey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Maskwacis reporting 37 active cases

Numbers current as of Oct. 19

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID-19: One more death in central zone

Ponoka County on province’s watchlist

Photo submitted/ Millet In Bloom
Town of Millet declared Best Blooming Community

The Town of Millet is being recognized for their efforts to meet the challenges of 2020.

Many rural municipalities were concerned about a proposed reduction to their industrial revenues, but Alberta’s Municipal Affairs minister has come up with an alternative solution. (Photo contributed)
Province and rural municipalities agree on a plan to support Alberta’s energy industry

Creating new wells or pipelines would result in a three year ‘tax holiday’

Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals say Tory effort to set up COVID-19 committee will be a confidence matter

The Tories were originally proposing an ‘anticorruption’ committee

Alberta Premier Jason Kenny and government house leader Jason Nixon chat before the speech from the throne delivered in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Alberta politicians are to return to the legislature Tuesday with a plan to discuss up to 20 new bills — many of which are focused on the province’s economic recovery. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta legislature to resume Tuesday; focus to be on economic recovery

Opposition house leader Heather Sweet said the NDP will focus on holding Premier Jason Kenney

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

robbery
UPDATE: Suspect identified in early morning shooting

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Alberta government photo)
Big boost for Alberta college agriculture research

The $2-million agreement to benefit Lethbridge College’s applied research team

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Canadian couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

(The Canadian Perss)
Banff wolves have lower survival rate due to hunting, trapping outside park boundary

Researchers looked at 72 radio-collared wolves in the national park from 1987 to August 2019

Most Read