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PAUL KOKELJ

PAUL KOKELJ

A sucker punch to the back: a very damaging type of hit with the chances of a fair fight becoming greatly reduced. Thus, Paul's fight against his cancer, Ewing sarcoma, was never fair right from the start. It was in his back, the pelvic area to be exact, that his tumor decided to reside, expand and send more of its kind elsewhere in his body. Quietly it grew, unnoticed, until it knew Paul's chances at survival would be minimal at best, and then, it hit hard by pressing against his sciatica nerve.

The consummate team player, an insatiable scholar studying the battles of the World Wars, Paul drew in his troops - family, friends from the office, friends from university, friends from home, teammates, the church community, along with new friends he made at the hospital. He used technology - his Blackberry, his email, and Facebook, to stay connected, to keep his spirit strong for what was to be his final great battle. A multitude of times he watched his favourite movies - Star Wars and Star Trek, with their everlasting quests of good overcoming evil, nourishing his inner courage in order to deal with his own fight against his evil tumor. Despite ongoing pain, and a now crippled right leg, Paul stayed focused by working on completing his degree; assisting his office on various small issues; and spending time comforting and being comforted by his friends and family. His underlying spirituality helped as he understood that you live, love and give for the day, not just wait meekly for the end.

Paul relied on the experts for his survival and their attempts were heroic. Help came from doctors, oncologists and radiologists who determined the plans of attack on his sarcoma and his pain; the gentle, humorous and kind nurses who administered the chemo and radiation along with the helpful nurses that came for home visits. An array of drugs were used like Vinicristine, Dexorbin, Cyclophosphamide, Oxycotin, Oxycodone, Gabapentin, Neupagen, Lovenox, Hydomorphone, Dexamethasone, Methoprazine to combat the cancer and its negative effects. All to no avail, his Ewing sarcoma became immune to the chemicals that tried to attack it. The most important piece of artillery was still missing - the "cure".

As Paul's strength waned, he made some final requests, two of them being: "Make sure you use me," and "Please do not forget me." His Ewing sarcoma story, to help raise awareness and assist in developing a cure for Ewing sarcoma, would be exactly how he would like to be used and remembered. The creation of the Ewings Cancer Foundation of Canada is a Godsend and gives those of us who were alongside Paul through his final year, new hope that a cure will be found. Having committed research into Ewing sarcoma is the best way to develop strategies to eradicate it. No one, especially children and youth, Ewing sarcoma's main victims, should have to suffer its aggressive and agonizing devastation.

-Emma & Andrew Kokelj