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Landon’s triumph: Five-year-old live wire defeats cancer, starts school

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Cathy Dobson

Five-year-old Landon Espinola is the life of the party.

He fills his parent’s living room with giggles and jokes and positive energy.

And that great attitude may help explain why the little redheaded boy beat a rare and very aggressive form of cancer.

“They said we’d be in the hospital with him for nine months, but we were home in four,” says his mom, Patricia, as she sorts through photos from Victoria Children’s Hospital in London.

One shows Landon dressed as Superman, but in most he wears a police costume.

“He was almost always dressed up as a policeman,” said Patricia.  “I have videos of him dancing with the IV in him.”

Landon showed no signs of illness before his mom noticed swelling one day. Two days later, in July 2013, he was at Victoria Hospital and doctors informed the family Landon had three tumours in his abdomen and a rare form of cancer called non-Hodgkin’s sparodic birkitts lymphoma.

It’s one of the fastest growing types of tumours and chemo began the very next day.

“He had 21 days straight of chemo, a few days off before they started more chemo. That happened four times,” said his dad Adrian.

“The doctors couldn’t tell us much. They don’t know what causes it.”

They also don’t know why Landon responded so well. The drugs caused his hair to fall out and weakened his immune system, but he didn’t require any other kind of treatment.

“I could tell from Landon that we’d get out of there,” said Patricia, who slept next to her son each night in the hospital. “He was all energy the whole time.  I just knew.”

By October, the tumours were gone and Landon was in remission.  A few weeks later he was home.

“He’s a little suckier now and he has big mood swings, I think from all that he went through, but we’re getting back to normal,” Patricia said.

On Sept. 2, Landon started senior kindergarten at P.E. McGibbon School. He was registered for JK last year when the cancer struck.

“I just told him he got to skip a year of school because he’s so smart,” Patricia laughed.

He also gets to skip this week of school because the Make A Wish Foundation flew Landon and his parents to Disney World in Florida.

“He first asked to go to the world’s biggest Angry Bird park,” said his mom. “But it’s in Finland and they could only fly one parent with him.  Plus, it’s so far away, so they suggested Disney.”

Amazingly, Landon’s trip was paid through the fundraising efforts of another Sarnian battling cancer. Reanna Pyne, a teen who inspired hundreds to gather at her home for carolling on Christmas Eve of 2012, is the reason behind the Cycle of Hope that raised $5,000 for Make A Wish this year.

That money is being used for the Espinola’s once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

“Sometimes it feels like the last year was a dream that never really happened,” said Patricia Espinola. “It feels so good to finally have a normal life again.”

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