Rick StiebelThe Chronicle
Griffyn Dmytar is living proof that there is hope and help available for families forced to deal with childhood cancer.
Griffyn was only nine days old when he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a malignant form of cancer that affects the nervous system, explained his mother, Nanaimo RCMP Const. Misty Dmytar. It arises in and around the adrenal glands, but can also develop in other areas of the abdomen and chest, and most commonly occurs in children under five years of age. While some forms may disappear on their own in some children, others require multiple treatments.
“Griffyn had his first surgery when he was 13 days old,” Dmytar said. “They removed a tumor the size of a baseball and had to remove his adrenal gland as well.”
He spent six months in B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, enduring six rounds of chemotherapy.
The good news is that Griffyn, now five years of age, was given a clean bill of health three days before the family celebrated with a week in Disneyland in September, courtesy of Make-A-Wish Canada, which works with B.C. Children’s Hospital and other agencies to make dreams come true for children dealing with a wide range of difficult issues.
“It all happened so quickly,” said Dmytar, a Ladysmith resident who has been with the RCMP for 13 years. “We waited until Griffyn was old enough to decide what he wanted to do. Make-A-Wish representatives came to the house and we knew we were going by March.”
Dmytar, Griffyn, his sister, Jordyn, 6, and Misty’s ex-partner, Duncan RCMP Cpl. Cari Lougheed, went to California together because Griffyn insisted the whole family share the experience.
“Griffyn was extremely excited and overwhelmed all in one,” Dmytar said. “It was a trip the family won’t forget for the rest of our lives.”
A favorite highlight for Griffyn was the California Adventure, which includes a re-creation of the downtown in the movie, Cars.
“He also had the opportunity to spend half an hour one-on-one with Mickey Mouse,” Dmytar said. “Mickey played with the kids, it was really amazing.”
The end of September and beginning of October is always an emotional time for Dmytar, who was a member of the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock in 2013.
“Griffyn was three and he was my junior rider,” she explained. “Every year the tour opens up a lot of memories, I hold it very close to my heart.”
Although Dmytar said it was physically and mentally very challenging, the Tour de Rock helped keep things in persecutive through a difficult time.
“The emotional part is the hardest,” she said. “Talking with a mother who just lost her child and comes up and give you $50, it touches your heart in ways you can’t imagine.”
The tour was a chance to give back to her community and communities up and down the Island that have given so much indirectly in so many ways, she noted.
That’s why it’s so important to speak about organizations like Cops for Cancer and Make-A-Wish, to name just a couple, she said.
“People dealing with cancer need to know there’s help there and that they’re not alone,” Dmytar said.