Longboarding cancer survivor gets help racking up mileage

A longboarding cancer survivor got a little extra help racking up some mileage Saturday for his cross-Canada fundraising trek.

Brandon Harrison, 20, suffered a stroke and aneurysm last month in Lake Louise

A longboarding cancer survivor got a little extra help racking up some mileage Saturday for his cross-Canada fundraising trek, Long for Life.

Brandon Harrison, 20, has been longboarding across Canada for the past five months with his father, Michael Floyd.

His goal was to make it to Victoria by the end of September but Harrison was forced to take a break after he suffered a stroke and aneurysm — his third in five years — while in Lake Louise on September 7.

Since then, he has been recovering at Calgary's Foothills Medical Centre.

"As soon as I'm able to ride, I'm going to drive out to Lake Louise, where I stopped, and I'm going to start skating from there to Vancouver," Harrison said. "It's the biggest goal I've ever set for myself so I'm really determined to finish it."

A helping hand

On Saturday, a group of Calgarians gathered outside Eau Claire market to help Harrison make up the distance left on his journey.

The idea was the brainchild of Robert Lewis, a Calgary teacher, and his students. 

Their goal is to ride a route that would collectively add up to the last 1,000 kilometres of Harrison's journey.

For Lewis, there is also a personal connection to Harrison's mission.

"In 2006, myself and three of my friends skateboarded across Canada for charity," said Lewis. "When I heard what had happened to Brandon it really tugged on a few heartstrings, because I know the blood, sweat and tears that it took to get to where he is, and the idea of not being able to finish is just one of the most tragic things I can think of."

Fist-sized tumour discovered at age of 2

When Harrison was two-and-a-half, doctors found a fist-sized tumour attached to his spine between his heart and lungs. 

Harrison was diagnosed with ganglioneuroblastoma and was treated at the Calgary Children's Hospital.

Given his age, the size of the tumour and the stage it had developed to, Harrison was given a 25 per cent chance of survival.

Surgeons were able to remove the tumour and five years later, the Harrison family learned the tumour was not going to return.

However, at the age of 15, Harrison suffered a stroke resulting in blindness in his left eye and impaired mobility in the left side of his upper body.

The stroke was caused by blood vessels in his brain called AV Malformations which burst in a sensitive area of Harrison's brain.

Two years later, in 2011, Harrison had another mild stroke and was told that further aneurysms were unlikely.


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