Fight Like a Kid #Irongabe

September is childhood cancer awareness month where we are to proudly wear our gold ribbon in support of all those affected by this horrible disease.  When Gabe’s mom first told me he was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukaemia), my heart broke for her family.  I have been photographing Gabs since he was only DAYS old, and have followed this family (including birth photography) for their next 2 children as well.  When a “client” comes to you over and over again, they become friends.  Then family and before you know it, their children are calling me “aunt Tonia”.

I personally know this disease as my sister was diagnosed with it when she was 11.  Today, she’s 33 and has 3 beautiful kids of her own.  I remember the hospital.  The hair loss.  The surgeries after her treatments (for her, the chemo shrunk her leg muscles causing her Achilles tendons to shrink and she needed the surgically corrected). I remember racing her wheelchair down the London Victoria hospital ramp so I could freak out my parents.  I remember her wig.  Her feeling so sick she didn’t even want to talk.  I remember sleeping in her hospital room so she wouldn’t’ be alone.  All these emotions came rushing back to me when I heard that this little guy was diagnosed.  Did you know that this is the most common form of childhood cancer and that it defects mainly kids 3-5 years old and found slightly more in boys than girls?  3000 people younger than 20 will be diagnosed with cancer every year.

The good news is that 98% of children go into remission within weeks of starting treatment (which is started within 24 hours of diagnosis) and 90% of those children are cured completely.  10 years in remission is what is classified as “cured” (though when my sister had it – it was 5 years in remission).

Gabe.  You are my hero.  I have watched you grow LITERALLY since you got to see this side of the world at only a few days old.  I watch your mom post your recent treatments and cuddles, sickness and smiles on Facebook and IG, and my heart just wants to reach through the computer screen and SQUEEZE YOU!!!  But then I remember your muscles…and that you are in fact a super hero.  You are an inspiration to everyone following your journey.  When you get sick and then follow it with “it’s okay mom, it just means the medicine is working”…well buddy, you make us all call you our hero.  You are amazing Gabe!  Iron Gabe.  Hero Gabe.  AMAZING, STRONG, KICK-CANCERS-BUTT Gabe!

Keep your head up buddy.  Continue to win this battle and you can keep calling me aunt Tonia every day for the rest of my life because you make my heart sing and I love seeing you beat this disease!!!  You are truly my hero #irongabe.  This is your fight.  You WILL win!! God bless you my hero Gabe!  #myhero

Fight like a kid!  #irongabe

**Make sure your volume is turned on and the video is not on mute….press play.

Since it’s childhood cancer awareness month and this is in honour of Gabe, I just wanted to share some signs and symptoms that may lead you to investigate beyond the common cold or ache muscles in children:

*frequent infections


*easy bruising

*bleeding that is hard to stop

*flat dark-red skin spots due to bleeding under the skin

*pain in the bones or joints

*lumps in the neck, under arm, stomach or groin


*loss of appetite

*shortness of breath

**and this one wasn’t on the list, but what I remember most about my 11-year-old sister at that time was that she wanted to sleep all the time.  That is not normal for a child.  Lots of sleep at night Is great but if they want to sleep all night…and lots during the day as well when they should be running outside and playing…something could be wrong.

Sabrina’s biggest question (Gabe’s mom) was “HOW DID YOU KNOW”…her answer:

“we had NO idea, most of the symptoms were pretty normal.  Especially in February when everyone was sick and had a fever for a week.  Gabe did have leg pain we thought was growing pains.  Headaches which we though was odd.  Bruising but he’s a tough kid. Weight loss and paleness. But he had been sick.  The one thing that appears the day of diagnosis was a swollen neck.  We are sharing these potential signs of childhood cancer not to scare or frighten, but to encourage awareness and early detection.”

If you would like to follow Gabe’s story click HERE but make sure to tell them you heard about his page through Delicate Impressions or you may miss out on being accepted to the page.  You NEED to follow Gabe’s story! He is truly a little hero!!!  And if you have been through the same thing, you might just be an encourager to his family who could need you!  xoxo

Jennifer Savage - September 8, 2017 - 8:41 PM

Praying for you gabe! This video was so touching it brought me to tears! You got this little man! Kick cancers butt!!

Meaghan - September 9, 2017 - 9:32 PM

Hi Tonia,

You did an absolutely exceptional job capturing this beautiful family and what a heartfelt personal story as well!!!!! They’re the ones who suggested we get our first-born photos of our Lachlan done with you! YOU are amazing! We have since left Burlington to move back to our hometown of Chatham 5 years ago and have 3 children now. Would have loved to get you photograph our next 2 as well but we moved away. Just wanted to say a little hello and congratulate you on your beautiful work. Keep up your work – you’re telling a beautiful story for so many!!

Meaghan Van Hooren Wright

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