Yellowknife couple wants to launch support group for people with brain tumours

A Yellowknife couple wants to start a support group in the city for people with brain tumours and their families.

Matthew Tremblett says talking to survivors in other cities helped him get through his ordeal

Aven and Matthew Tremblett with their second son Kristofer. The family is organizing the first brain tumour walk in the North in May in an effort to start a support group for people affected by brain tumours. (Emily Rendell-Watson/CBC)

A Yellowknife couple wants to start a support group in the city for people with brain tumours and their families. 

Matthew Tremblett had a grand mal seizure in November 2011 and was later found to have an anaplastic astrocytoma, a type of brain cancer, on the left side of his brain.

Tremblett and his wife Aven, who are originally from Yellowknife, moved back to the city in 2014 once Matthew was in remission.

Matthew Tremblett began having seizures when he was 21. He has had two brain tumours - one benign and one malignant. He has been in remission for about a year and a half. (Emily Rendell-Watson/CBC)

They knew there was no brain tumour support group in the North and immediately asked the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada about starting one. The foundation suggested planning a walk first to gauge community interest.

"I know what it's like to not have somebody to lean on. I know what it's like to not have any support," said Matthew, who lost his driver's licence and sense of independence following his diagnosis. 

"I really want to help other people."

Aven said the hardest part was watching their son grow up in hospitals. He was usually there when his father had seizures.

"He would go over and grab a pillow for Matthew to put his head on when he seized," said Aven.

Support groups helped him cope 

Before moving back to Yellowknife, the Trembletts relied on support groups in Fredericton, N.B., and Edmonton. The groups connected them to other individuals and families in the same situation.

"Just going there and talking to other brain tumour survivors, people who have beaten the odds… it just takes some of the fear away," said Matthew. 

Although Matthew remains in remission, the family still struggles with the aftermath of the brain tumour. They said an annual fundraising and awareness walk and a support group will allow people in the same situation to share their common experiences.

Since the walk was announced, the Trembletts have received lots of positive feedback, including a message from a man in Whitehorse who said he has been through the same situation and will join one of the teams who will be walking. He plans to walk five kilometres at the same time as the Yellowknife walk.

The fundraising began a month ago and more than $8,000 has been pledged so far.

The walk will take place May 29.