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Community rallies to help Clarenville family faced with leukemia diagnosis

Darian Hunt.
Darian Hunt.

The hockey community in Clarenville and beyond has come together to support a young player battling cancer.

Twelve-year-old Darian Hunt of the Clarenville Caribous pee-wee team was recently diagnosed with leukemia. His parents, Neda and Troy Hunt, are in St. John’s with their son as he undergoes chemotherapy treatments at the Janeway hospital.
During a phone interview on Dec. 2, Troy said Darian’s diagnosis came after his son began experiencing flu-like symptoms.
“He’s been tired and congested for about a month now but about two weeks before he got diagnosed he had a lot of fatigue and a chest cold.”
Troy took Darian to the family doctor who sent him for blood work.
“Dr. (David) Bretnall came to the house and gave us the news of Darian’s blood results.”
The physician told the family that Darian has leukaemia.
“It was a very harsh night. Then, we had to get ready and come to St. John’s to the Janeway,” Troy said.
Darian’s cancer treatments will last over two years. Watching a child fight any serious illness (Darian is having a lot of joint pain) has to be one of the most difficult things a parent will face.
However, Troy said, Darian is handling his illness well.
“Most people who know Darian, know he’s a pretty timid kid. We thought he was going to be really nervous and upset about what will be happening... I won’t say he’s accepted what he has to go through... He gets mad about it, sometimes. But he’s been a trooper,” Troy said.
Troy and Neda have a nine-year-old daughter, Kaiya.
Troy was a coach and a player with the Clarenville Caribous in the senior hockey league and continues to coach minor hockey.
Support has come from both senior and minor hockey groups, a church group, small business owners, as well as from numerous other people and organizations.
Fundraisers have run the gamut from a yoga session to a coffee house to a chuck-a-puck (during a recent senior hockey game), to a bingo game to a breakfast with Santa (in Swift Current).
“It’s not only about the (financial) donations, it’s even people sending notes and prayers, the different supports have been overwhelming,” Troy said.
In explaining just how much support the family has received, Troy spoke of a recent message he received from strangers.
“They said they had a fundraiser at the university (MUN) residence, a hockey game. They raised some money and they wanted to donate it to Darian.”
The Price family are neighbours of the Hunts.
Jennifer Price is donating $5 from every gift certificate sold at her business (Feel Fabulous Spa), up to Christmas, to the Hunt family. Her son Noah, 11, is on Darian’s hockey team. Darian is also friends with her nine-year-old son, Devon.
She says it’s hard to see their friend not out playing with her boys.
“You want to do whatever you can to help them,” she said.
Noah said he misses his friend a lot.
Besides being a winger on the hockey team, Noah said, Darian is usually the goalie when the boys get together for a game of ball hockey.
“We don’t play ball hockey any more. It’s just not the same without (Darian). He is funny all the time. Sometimes, when someone is sad, he’ll say something to make them laugh.”
Noah said he’d like Darian to know that the team is thinking about him.
“The colour for (leukemia) is orange. We all have orange (tape) on our hockey sticks for him.”
Stephanie Mackey is hockey mom for Darian’s team and head hockey mom for the Clarenville Minor Hockey Association. Her son Jesse, 12, plays on the team with Darian.
“Our kids all got orange ribbons on their jerseys. When we went to a tournament in Bonavista, every team that came had orange on their sticks... (The Hunts) are such good people involved in the community. Everybody wants to be there now to help them.”
Darian has developed pneumonia since his admission to the Janeway. Howeve, his family is hoping he will be well enough to go home for a few days for Christmas. Tests further down the road will determine if that happens, Troy said.
Troy agreed to do this interview for The Packet so he could let people know that the support the family has been receiving is helping a great deal.
“I just want people to know what they’ve done for myself and my family and for Darian, I’m forever grateful... Darian is fighting this as he needs to. He’ll get through it. It’s going to be a long journey for him but, at the end of it, he’ll be a stronger boy because of it. And we’ll be a stronger family.”

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