Caleb MacArthur’s face shines with delight and amazement as he reaches for a Christmas present. “Look!” squeals the Cape Breton toddler in a home video shot by his mom. “I got a sword!”
In the weeks and months to come, that toy sword would fuel the youngster’s imagination, inspire games with his big sisters and be used a prop in countless plays.
And that little toy sword would become Caleb’s weapon in the biggest fight of this boy’s life - the fight against cancer.
Caleb was born on April 21, 2011 to parents Mike MacArthur and Nicole Forgeron. From birth, Caleb was fascinated with his big sisters, Ella and Aubreigh, and they adored their baby brother. As Caleb grew, the three children loved nothing more than to be together, spending hours performing plays and dances, frolicking in the snow and inventing games.
When twins Lauchlin and Emery arrived, the household was even busier with the sounds of five young children growing, learning and playing. The twins adored watching their big brother and smothering him with hugs and kisses.
Sporting shaggy rockstar hair and bright blue-grey eyes, Caleb was the epitome of a lively little boy. He embraced life's simple pleasures -- throwing rocks in the water, shovelling snow, playing in the dirt, sailing in his Grampy's boat. He was a natural athlete, playing hockey and golf seemingly from the moment he could walk. Above all, however, Caleb loved superheroes and would proudly wear one of his many pairs of superhero pyjamas.
On Caleb’s third birthday, after showing signs of fatigue and sickness, he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. He would spend the next 11 months in and out of hospitals, from Cape Breton and Halifax to Toronto, his trusty sword at his side giving him courage and strength.
Despite battling cancer as fiercely as one of his beloved superheroes, Caleb died on March 24, 2015, surrounded by friends and family.
In a tribute to her son, Nicole writes: “He was the light and love of our lives, and an inspiration to all who knew him -- a true warrior, who fought his battle, tirelessly and fearlessly, with such dignity, courage, strength, and determination.”
To honour Caleb and to thank his nurses and doctors, his family has established Caleb's Courage, a charity to raise money to renovate the Oncology Palliative Care Pediatrics Room at Cape Breton Regional Hospital and to start a fund to help other families facing the same anguish.
You can donate here:
“He captured the hearts of all the doctors, nurses, and support staff he encountered,” Caleb’s mom writes in her tribute. “These were more than just ‘institutions’ as they thankfully became our ‘homes away from home’ and the medical staff became our family, loving and caring for Caleb as if he was their own child. Your kindness and compassion will never be forgotten.”
The MacArthurs are also holding Caleb’s Courage Run, Walk or Fly Event on Sunday September 27, 2015 at Petersfield Park, Westmount, Cape Breton. Registration takes place at 9 a.m. while the run gets underway at 10 a.m. with superhero afterparty from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children are encouraged to dress as their favourite superhero.
"You endured the fight of your life, Caleb, and you never gave up!" writes Nicole. "In our eyes, you are victorious! So raise your sword up strong and proud! Fly high and shine bright! We love you with every ounce of our being! We are so proud of you, Caleb, and are honoured, privileged, and blessed to call you our son. Have fun in the playgrounds of Heaven!"
Jayson Taylor, Producer
Deborah Clarke, Story Editor
Tyler Parent, Editor
Nance Ackerman/Jamie Alcorn, Music & Sound