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‘Classic Yellowknife support’ after youth discovers tumor

Yellowknifer’s have flooded in with support online for a 12-year-old gymnast who discovered she had a brain tumor while at a competition in Vancouver last Monday.

It was the phone call Rod Carson said he never wanted to hear.

On Monday, December 12, Carson’s daughter Maggie was set to return home from her competition in Vancouver. But that morning, her coach noticed she was disoriented and having trouble speaking.

Initially thinking that Maggie, a type 1 diabetic, was suffering from low blood sugar, her coach had her call her mother LeeAnna. But right away her mother knew something else was wrong.

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“LeeAnna tried to talk to Maggie and Maggie wasn’t making any sense to her,” Carson explained. “So she immediately told her coach to get her to the hospital.”

After being taken to Burnaby Hospital, a CT scan revealed a mass on Maggie’s left temporal lobe. She was rushed to the Vancouver children’s hospital where she underwent an MRI that revealed the large mass to be a tumor.

At first, Carson says he and his wife believed Maggie’s condition to be a virus. His wife was about to fly to Vancouver by herself  when they got the call that is was in fact a tumor.

Carson said he immediately dropped everything to join his wife.

“To get that phone call, to say that there’s a mass on your baby girl’s brain is a phone call no parent will ever want to hear,” he said.

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Maggie met members of the Vancouver Canucks while staying in hospital. Photo courtesy: Angela Betts-Rogers.
Maggie met members of the Vancouver Canucks while staying in hospital. Photo courtesy: Angela Betts-Rogers.

On Wednesday, Maggie spent five hours in surgery. Doctors managed to remove 95 per cent of the tumor, and Maggie was discharged to the Ronald MacDonald house to recover.

Carson says his daughter is in much better condition now. He says she’s eating well and her headaches have subsided.

The family is now waiting to hear what the nature of her tumor is.

“We’re just walking on eggshells right now,” Carson said. “If it’s benign, we hope to be home for Christmas. If it’s not then that’s another page in this book.”

A friend of the family started a GoFundMe campaign to show support for Maggie and her family. As of Monday night, it’s raised just over $19,000 from the community.

Carson says there are no words to describe how thankful he and his family are.

“It’s unbelievable to think that that many people would show love and concern for our little girl,” he said. “We’ve seen it for other families. It’s just classic Yellowknife support.”

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‘Anxious to get back into training’

In 2014, Maggie was one of the gymnasts representing Yellowknife in the Arctic Winter games.

Her father says that despite surgery, her neurosurgeon has cleared Maggie to continue training following the holidays.

“We’ll take it one day at a time,” he said, adding that she won’t be able to train at her full-level right away.

“She’s anxious to get back into training funny enough. She’s looking forward to that but of course we’ll have to let her ease back into that.”

UPDATE: ‘Best Christmas present ever’: YK youth’s brain tumor found benign

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