An Edmonton girl diagnosed with terminal brain cancer checked off another item on her bucket list, Wednesday, after spending the day with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians).
Ten-year-old Rheanna Trepanier first fell ill on Halloween and complained of headaches, pain in her eyes and chills. After being rushed to the hospital, the doctors at Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital found four brain tumours and informed the family that they needed to perform surgery right away.
It’s been an uphill battle for Rheanna and her family since. She underwent three brain surgeries and a blood transfusion. However, the doctors were unable to remove the largest tumour, the size of a golf ball.
On Nov. 21, Rheanna’s tenth birthday, the family was informed of the worst news possible.
“The type of cancer she has in her brain is aggressive. There is no cure. With the radiation and the chemo, it’ll help her have some more time with us,” told Rheanna’s mother Marissa Trepanier to Global News.
Rheanna has been diagnosed with two types of brain tumours: anapaestic oligodendroglioma (Grade III) and glioblastoma (Grade IV).
Now Rheanna and her family are embarking on an adventure-packed journey to cross everything off of the ten-year old’s bucket list and make a lifetime of memories. Some of the things she’s done or is hoping to do include go horseback riding and dog sledding, watch an Edmonton Oilers game in Rogers Place and meet Connor McDavid.
Among the thousands of people who have been touched by Rheanna’s story include Edmonton local news station, 630 CHED’s, personality, J’Lyn Nye. Nye, an honorary colonel of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, contacted BGen. Simon Hetherington of 3rd Canadian Division, Col. Bill Fletcher, Commanding Officer of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group and Col. Stephen Lacroix, Commanding Officer, 3rd Canadian Division Support Group to see if something could be done. They all jumped on board and began planning a special day for the girl.
LCol. Mark Lubiniecki of the Lord Strathcona’s said he received an overwhelming response from his regiment upon hearing about Rheanna.
“The response by the soldiers was remarkable. We had more people volunteering to help out than we had positions. I think it touched home with a lot of people. A lot of the members of the regiment have sons and daughters or brothers and sisters and I guess just to see a girl so young dealing with something so difficult and her family there as well it brings a tear to your eye and causes you to choke up when you talk about it, for those who were with her that day,” said Lubiniecki.
On Dec. 14, accompanied by her mother Marissa, older sister, two younger brothers, an Aunt, and Grandmother, Rheanna spent the day with the Lord Strathcona’s, having the chance to experience many lifelong dreams.
“Going to the military base was the most spectacular day of my entire life. I wished to be able to ride in a tank and my special day to be turned out to be much more than that,” recalled Rheanna.
The family was greeted by Col. Fletcher and driven to the regiment in a Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) III. En route they were escorted by two MP patrols with all intersections blocked.
Rheanna and her family then received “the shock of their lives” with a General Solute from a 50 person Honour Guard.
“As I walked between them my mouth dropped, I felt so honoured. My mom had tears in her eyes. I never thought anything like that would happen,” remembered Rheanna.
She then proceeded to spend the day checking out weapons, riding a Leopard 2 Tank, watching a private showing of the Lord Strathcona’s mounted troop and then having the chance to ride one of the horses.
“I want to thank all the soldiers for all that they do and especially all that they did for me and my family,” said Rheanna.
The day was something all of Rheanna’s family members cherished.
“It just means so much to me that we are able to do all the things. When she had made the bucket list and said she wanted to go on a tank and hold a bazooka I thought yeah she wrote it down but I did not actually think that would happen, that, that dream would come true for her.
“It just brought tears to my eyes. It was so special and that they planned this just for Rheanna. These are true heroes to us and to have them do that for us is just amazing. There’s no words to describe, that moment and that feeling,” said Marissa.