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Maple Ridge's Kira Short, five, a model of courage

Kira Short’s cancer battle continues. - Special to The TIMES
Kira Short’s cancer battle continues.
— image credit: Special to The TIMES

Father’s Day will be even happier than usual for Peter Short, after the dark skies that have hovered over his five-year-old daughter, Kira, recently parted a bit.

But Kira’s battle against cancer continues.

In the fall, Kira was diagnosed with poorly differentiated chordoma.

It’s a malignant tumour between her C1 and C2 vertebrae, her dad explained.

Kira’s tumour is inoperable because of how close it is to her spinal cord and the only treatment options are chemotherapy and proton radiation therapy in the U.S.

“The family’s spirits are holding up,” Peter said, with another Father’s Day gift just days away. “It has been a long road so far as we have been battling since November [2015].”

The family received some good news after Kira had her first set of chest CT and MRI scans, and the test showed that the cancer had not spread, and the tumour has been shrinking.

“This was the best news we could had received, aside from the cancer being gone completely,” Peter said.

“We still have a ways to go as it looks like we will be continuing with more chemotherapy at BC Children’s Hospital [BCCH] and will eventually have to fly to Boston for proton radiation therapy for roughly three months.”

Peter recently shared, “Since we had such great results with chemotherapy, it looks like we will be headed to Boston in early August, in fact Dr. Leibcsh in Boston said as early as the first week of August.”

Kira’s family and friends are planning another fundraiser for her in July at the Haney Public House to help raise funds for her continued treatment and medical expenses.

The event will be held Saturday, July 16, from 6 to 10 p.m. There will be a CCR tribute band on stage, along with a silent auction, Toonie toss, 50/50 draw, and raffle. Tickets are $20 and can be had by emailing Peter at peter.short@live.ca or by private messaging him on Facebook.

“Tickets may or may not be available at the door depending on how fast they sell,” Dad said.

Peter and wife Rayanne were unsure what to expect as they were told when chemotherapy started, that their daughter’s cancer is so rare that there is no set chemotherapy protocol for her cancer.

“Kira’s oncologist at BCCH told us  they were going to try the protocol used for Ewings Sarcoma and see what happens,” Peter elaborated. “As parents we had to remain positive and keep faith even after we were told that six cycles of chemo may do nothing at all. That was a hard pill to swallow.”

On the runway

The little girl Peter calls “a warrior princess” is doing well.

“She always has a smile on her face and the nurses at BCCH call her the ‘spicy one’ cause she always makes sure to let them know what she’s thinking,” Peter said.

“Kira is also very well known around the hospital for her signature headbands and hats.”

Kira makes the best of her time at the hospital, her dad added.

“We spend lots of time in the playroom, and take advantage of all the events that BCCH has to offer. Of course she would rather be home or outside playing with her friends or riding her bike, but no matter what Kira is always positive and keeps that amazing smile on her face.”

Cancer has disrupted Kira’s life but she has been able to spend a little bit of time with her friends since her treatment has started.

Usually following a chemo treatment Kira’s immune system bottoms out so her parents try to keep her at home to avoid her getting sick.

Kira has attended school a handful of times since December.

“She really misses all of her friends and the teachers at Maple Ridge Elementary, and is overjoyed every time we ask her if she feels up to going to school when her counts are up,” Peter said.

Over the past seven months, Peter and Rayanne have been grateful by all the support the family has received since Kira’s diagnosis.

He said family, friends, Maple Ridge Elementary, and Maple Ridge as a community have “all really rallied together for our family and helped make this cancer war so much easier for us,” Peter said.

He added, “I’m so thankful for my employer Big Valley Heating for supporting my family and allowing me to take time off to be with Kira during this difficult time and to adjust to everything. Kira’s school MRE has also really supported our family through this difficult time.”

The support is every more appreciated now as the family has learned that this treatment plan is going to go the distance.

Meanwhile, it may have been Kira’s sense of fashion that earned her an invite to be part in Show of Styles – Kids with Smiles, at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown.

Kira was one of three Maple Ridge kids participating in a special fashion show to aid BCCH.

The other two models were seven-year-old Rayna Suhl, who was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome at only 17 months old, and nine-year-old Sebastian Jaschke, who spent only a few days at BCCH, but was eager to give back.

Sebastian was in a double leg cast for two months, at the age of six, after undergoing heel tendon surgery

The evening fashion show, organized by fellow Maple Ridge resident Corissa Dean, featured 11 models – all past and current patients of BCCH – who were anxious to help raise money and awareness for the Vancouver-based medical facility.

Peter said Kira was in her element as she took the runway and strutted her stuff.

“Kira is such a diva and enjoyed showing off all her new outfits that she got for the show,” Peter said. “I was so amazed at how great this show was and how well all the other kids did.”

The family was unsure if Kira would be able to take part due to her chemo schedule, but two days prior to the show Kira’s chemo was postponed and she was able to attend the fashion show.

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