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Liam Elder, Sailor Extraordinaire


Army.ca Veteran
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A heart felt Bravo Zulu to the Captain and Crew of HMCS Calgary, and everyone else involved in making this wish come true for someone who has had what could only be described as a tough road to haul.  :salute:

Thoughts are with Liam and his family, and hope that they can find a treatment which will work and give him a longer life expectancy, and maybe set things back into remission.


Navy News / March 20, 2015

By Sub-Lieutenant Ellie Aminaie

From the moment 10-year-old Liam Elder set foot in HMCS Calgary on March 6, 2015, he made quite an impression. He was wearing naval combat dress with the rank of an Ordinary Seaman; however, his naval knowledge was so impressive that he was immediately promoted to Leading Seaman and presented with his Bosun’s Call (whistle).

Liam was able to tour parts of the ship along with his parents and nine-year-old brother Benjamin, watch a demonstration of the 57mm gun, and view a naval boarding party display.  He was also made an honorary member of the ship’s dive team.  Since he displayed such great skills as a sailor, the crew promoted him through the ranks so quickly that he was promoted to the rank of Commander and appointed as the Honorary Captain(Navy) of HMCS Calgary.

Liam is an amazing kid who has had a very difficult childhood. He was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in March 2011 at the age of six. He underwent harsh chemotherapies every three to four weeks, and in between was admitted to hospital many times for bacterial, viral and fungal infections, pneumonia and anaphylaxis, due to his compromised immune system. He completed his protocol in late October 2013 and was completely medication free for nine months.

Liam relapsed in July 2014 with the same type of cancer and chemotherapy began immediately. The plan was to bring him to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto for a bone marrow transplant once the cancer was in remission. However, a rare, life-threatening fungal infection was discovered in his nose and palate, leading to having two-thirds of his palate removed, as well as the septum in his nose. Further surgeries removed a tear duct and the sinus cavity between his eyes. 

In December 2014, the infection spread to Liam’s spine and resulted in another surgery that fused and cemented parts of his spine. Throughout all of this, Liam remained in high spirits and continued his cancer protocol with the intent of moving towards bone marrow transplant this spring.

Unfortunately, it was discovered two weeks ago that the infection has spread to Liam’s brain. Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), Toronto Sick Kids Hospital, and other world-renowned hospitals are trying to come up with options to save his life, but without treatment, Liam has about a month to live.

It has always been Liam’s dream to see the ocean and to board a Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) ship and see the shipyard as his mother, Christine Harkin, used to serve with the RCN. During their brief visit to Victoria, B.C., Liam’s dream was fulfilled. While on their tour of HMCS Calgary, Christine had the chance to reflect on her time on board a frigate and showcase the life of a sailor to Liam. He especially enjoyed the rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) ride around Esquimalt Harbour and was keen to catch a fish for dinner.

Many members of CFB Esquimalt, such as the Military Police and firefighters, also had the privilege of meeting this extraordinary young man, who undoubtedly left a lasting impression on everyone. His strength and perseverance is an inspiration to us all.
That brings tears to my eyes.  What a remarkable and courageous young man.  I do hope that they find a way to see him successfully through his illness.  BZ, CALGARY!  A shame it could not have been a day sail for him too.  :salute:
BZ for the crew.
I hope their support helps this young man in his struggles.  :salute:
Eyes are welling up... What a struggle. Shining example of battling on, never surrender. Good on the crew of the HMCS Calgary for making this happen.