'It raises his chances': Family seeks help to fund 5-year-old's trial cancer treatment

When Jerylle Saquibal was diagnosed with cancer a year-and-a-half ago, his mom feared he wouldn't live to see his fifth birthday.

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She certainly didn't expect the scene that played out in Calgary on Wednesday, when Jerylle was not only present to celebrate his fifth birthday, but was energetic enough to sing a song for an audience of well-wishers.

Dressed in a Batman costume, the outgoing boy belted out a rendition of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas," and thanked all those present for helping pay for the treatments to keep his cancer at bay.

"Thank you for giving me all my medicine," Jerylle said.

His mother, Arlene Chavez, said that moment was a "big deal" for her because she wasn't sure it would ever happen. Back in July of 2014, Jerylle was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma – a childhood cancer that cannot be cured and must be treated through chemotherapy. Jerylle's family says the disease has only a 40-50 per cent survivability rate, with a 50 per cent risk of relapse.

"At one point I didn't think he would reach this stage, him turning five, so it's a big deal for us," Chavez told CTV Calgary.

"When a doctor tells you that your kid has cancer, all you can think is, he's going to die soon."

Jerylle's parents are raising money to pay for a new treatment that's been shown to help keep his type of cancer at bay. The treatment is currently at the clinical trial stage in the U.S., but it's not covered by Alberta's health care system.

The family has raised a little over $9,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to pay for the clinical trial, with a goal of $76,000 to pay for the costly treatments. Each of the seven treatments costs $18,000.

"This drug is important to us," Jerylle's father, Jorez Saquibal, told CTV Calgary. "It raises his chances."

Jerylle has already started with the treatments, and hopes to remain cancer-free so he can do all the things he loves.

"I like playing with my cousins and I love singing – and that's it," he told CTV Calgary.

Jerylle's family has set up a website to fully document his cancer struggles.

However, ask the five-year-old about the whole experience, and he'll give you a pretty good summary: "I had cancer and I needed a lot of pokes," he said.

With files from CTV Calgary


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