DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – A Fort St. John resident, Keira Cockwill, started fundraising for her friend, Kaylene Farrell, to help her with recovery costs following another surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Farrell was only nine years old when she started experiencing migraines and would throw up stomach bile every morning around the same time. Her family booked several doctor appointments, and they were sure it was some sort of dairy allergy at one point.

When Farrell was 10, she had a CT scan, and after waiting the required 15 minutes, she was asked to stay.

The doctors had found an astrocytoma that was 4.5 centimetres in diameter, so she was flown to Alberta’s Stollery Children’s Hospital.

On February 5th, 2013, she had her first surgery at the hospital before being discharged nine days later.

Once Farrell was home again, she began physiotherapy that lasted around six months. She says once she was fully healed, “you couldn’t even tell I had a tumour.”

For the last seven years, she travelled to Edmonton for MRIs, starting every three months until gradually increasing to 18 months.

Farrell mentions there was a spot they were keeping an eye on because her doctors were unsure if it was scar tissue or a missed tumour.

She was 17 years old and in nursing school when she noticed that she would stumble or lose her balance and bump into the beds during lab time.

Just after her 18th birthday, she had what should’ve been her last MRI in Grande Prairie, but the neurosurgeon had emailed her family saying that something didn’t look right on the scans.

In January 2021, Farrell dropped out of nursing school and got a job as a support worker, and for the next six months, her symptoms got more consistent and worse.

She headed back to Edmonton in June of last year for an MRI and a follow-up, and that’s when she was told that her tumour was back.

This time, she says it was smaller and slowly growing, so the surgery wasn’t considered urgent.

The surgery was scheduled for October before being postponed for an indeterminate amount of time. Farrell was forced to take several days off work due to migraines that prescription pain medications couldn’t alleviate.

Last month, she finally received the phone call she had been waiting for, and the surgery was done on June 10th at 5:30 a.m., lasting approximately five hours.

Since then, she has been back in physiotherapy every day but still struggles with dizziness, headaches, and nausea.

Farrell isn’t sure what the future of her recovery looks like besides the need for physiotherapy and some activities she can do on her own time.

Farrell says she might need someone with her at all times to use the stairs, get in and out of bed and do other daily tasks. She adds that there have been discussions about transporting her to the Fort St. John hospital to receive care there.

Cockwill and Farrell have been good friends since early elementary, and even if they happened to drift apart, they say they’ve come back to be there for one another.

Cockwill said the two have “gone through it all, basically.”

Farrell adds that her friend will message her daily to chat and ensure she’s doing alright.

The GoFundMe was only recently set up with a goal of $5,000 to help with physio appointments, travel expenses, and purchasing possible needed medical equipment.

The fundraiser is currently sitting at just over $1,000.

There is also an e-transfer option at kaylenemfarrell@gmail.com for those who do not want to donate to GoFundMe.

Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.