Noah’s Blue Ribbon Brigade

In January 2012, our son Noah was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. At eleven years old, he was given a 50% chance of long term survival. He bravely underwent grueling treatment for nine months and then eagerly jumped back into life.  He had a zest for life and a mischievous spirit, with a sharp, cutting wit. Confident in his own opinions, he never followed the crowd and was known for his forthrightness.  Although he loved most sports, his two great passions were hockey and baseball.

After one year of remission, we were devastated to learn the cancer had metastasized to his lung; we were fully aware that his odds of long term survival were dismal now that he had relapsed so soon after initial treatment.  He endured a second round of treatment. The cancer responded but returned when treatment stopped.  By August 2014, he had run out of options. Noah entered a last resort drug trial only to relapse again. He never gave up hope.  Noah Scott Llewellyn took his last breath at home on December 7, 2014 but cancer never crushed his spirit.

We were devastated by his loss; the unimaginable had happened. Our community rallied behind us and soon a dear friend devised a loving campaign of remembrance that is still honored today, almost two years later.  All around our community, trees adorned with blue ribbons can be found honoring the memory of our courageous boy (blue was his favorite color).  Thus began “Noah’s Blue Ribbon Brigade”.

Along this lonely journey, I connected with the amazing families who run the Ewing Cancer Foundation of Canada (ECFC) who offered unconditional support and inspired me to tell Noah’s story.  A longer version of Noah’s journey may be found on the ECFC site at http://www.ewingscancer.ca/Noah.html .

In May 2015, I was inspired to create a Facebook page to spread awareness for childhood cancer and share my grief.  In doing so I discovered a love of writing and the cathartic effect it has provided.  Some of my recent articles can be found on The Mighty.  Amazingly, two of these articles were picked up by the Huffington Post and Womans World; they can be found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-phrase-thats-hurtful-for-me-to-hear-as-a-mom-who_us_57978e80e4b0e339c23fa5d5 and http://www.womansworld.com/posts/searching-for-meaning-after-the-death-of-her-14-year-old-son-mom-spots-something-stunning-on-the-ground-108479 respectively.  I am currently working on a book of short stories detailing signs that we have received since Noah’s death.

Noah’s courage and spirit have inspired others to help in the fight to end childhood cancer.  Several memorial dedications include the Noah Llewellyn Ball Hockey Tournament, the LWF Baseball Association 2015 season dedication and the BDMHA Noah Llewellyn Annual Christmas Tournament.

A significant donation to Ewing sarcoma specific research was also inspired by Noah’s story and his friends and schoolmates raised $3,300 for the IWK Children’s Hospital and cancer research through various fund raising initiatives!  His friendships spanned athletes, musicians, gamers and academics. One quote in particular sticks out to me from a note we received after his death.  The father noted he had asked his child if he knew Noah and the child’s response warmed my heart, “Everyone knows Noah; he was everybody’s friend.”

Finally, Georges P. Vanier Junior High dedicated their library to Noah in early 2015.  In the “Llewellyn Library” hangs a picture of Noah bearing his friend’s dedication: “Noah was an amazing guy: always brave and positive. He refused to give up, he lived every day to its fullest, and he inspired us all to become better people”.

And he’s still inspiring us, every single day. Because even though he never had a chance, he never gave up…and neither will we!

– Dawn Williams (Noah’s mom)

Follow this journey on http://www.facebook.com/Noahsblueribbonbrigade .