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A true miracle

With Roberto Luongo as inspiration, Colin Kornelsen defied the odds and beat cancer

Friday, 21.11.2008 / 12:06 PM / Features
By Derek Jory
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A true miracle
Miracles are said to be commonplace in sports.

Each and every day a commentator or writer describes a catch, shot, hit or save as a miracle; the word has become as clichéd as taking it one game at a time and giving 110 per cent.

Roberto Luongo’s recent three-game shutout streak was impressive, but it was no miracle.

Luongo was part of the inspiration a seven-year-old boy needed to miraculously overcome cancer though.

Colin Kornelsen was only four-years-old when doctors diagnosed him with T-Cell Lymphoma after finding a tumor the size of a large grapefruit in his chest.

The youngster from Manitoba was in and out of hospitals over the next two years without much of a clue what was going on. His health would improve only to diminish before inversing again.

The future was uncertain and leaning towards bleak for Colin, so the Kornelsens made the most of the time they had left with their middle child.

“He wasn’t doing very good, so we took off for two weeks and went to Mexico,” said Mervin Kornelsen, Colin’s father.

“Maybe it was our last trip with him so we knew money wasn’t an issue, we just wanted to have fun with the family.”

A trip to Belize to spend time with grandparents was next on the agenda for the family, yet just as the Kornelsen’s spirits were high once again, Colin took a turn for the worse.

Upon their return from vacation an ultrasound revealed that a rare type of B-Cell Lymphoma was now taking over Colin’s kidneys.

The outlook was worse than ever and doctors gave Colin a 10 per cent chance of surviving.

“Because there are only four kids in this world that have ever had that type of cancer, the doctors were very confused,” explained Mervin. “Long story short, we decided not to do chemo, we figured if God wanted to heal him, he can heal him.”

Now this is an instance where the word miracle applies.

Despite the odds being heavily stacked against him, Colin beat the cancer. There’s no real explanation to what happened, according to Mervin, a few months after the diagnosis, the cancer was just gone.

“It’s a miracle, that’s all I can say. They basically wrote him off, and instead he just went the other way.

“The doctors said they couldn’t find the cancer anymore and all of the sudden Colin started doing things that the doctors said he would never do.

“He was never supposed to drive a bicycle, today he drives a bicycle.”

A short while ago it was also doubtful that Colin would ever get to watch his beloved Canucks play live and in person, but that also recently became a reality.

While in the hospital, Colin wrote a letter to Luongo in which he “asked if I could come see him,” the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada and the Vancouver Canucks took care of the rest.

Colin and his family, parents Mervin and Nancy and siblings Teresa and Jimmy, attended a pair of Canucks games in early November. First they sat in the stands and watched Vancouver take down Minnesota 2-0 on Nov. 8, three nights later they were VIPs in the press box as the Canucks lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Avalanche on Nov. 12.

The Kornelsens also attended Vancouver’s game-day skate on the 12th. Afterwards Kevin Bieksa and Luongo came to visit Colin and the permanent smile that was already etched on his face from watching his heroes practice somehow doubled in size.

“It was very exciting,” said Colin, wearing an autographed Canucks jersey with pride.

Luongo invited the family to come say hi again after the game; this was the icing on the cake for Colin as Louie gave him a signed, game-used stick before posing for a few pictures.

“It’s never an easy situation to see and if you can make the kid happier by doing little gestures like that, then you just do what you can,” said Luongo.

“Hopefully this was a good day for him and he enjoyed himself and he’ll have a good memory of it.”

It’s not a memory Colin will forget anytime soon, said Mervin, as Luongo and the Canucks were with his son during the tough patches and spending some time with them helped everyone put some closure on the situation.

“He’s been very excited this whole trip, I don’t know him the way he is here. It really means something to him and the whole family.

“He has changed. He is, as a rule, a very generous person. He likes to give, he likes to give, he likes to give. He will share almost anything, but at the same time anything that has Canucks on it, is his.”

Miracles are thought to be daily occurrences in sports, however Colin’s inexplicable recovery is a reminder that actual miracles are few and far between.

Without so much as a catch, shot, hit or save, Colin was part of a miracle and he’s more of an inspiration than any athlete because of it.



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