Dylan, Jasmine, and Nathan BullNathan Bull (right) and his family, including siblings Dylan and Jasmine, have been buoyed by community support in his fight against liposarcoma.

Community rallies behind alumnus battling rare form of cancer

Jasmine Bull describes the outpouring of community support her family received after being hit with life-changing news shortly before the holidays as a “big old hug.”

The University of Windsor engineering student said her brother, Nathan Bull, a 2019 BComm graduate himself, complained of pain a few months ago. When he went to get it looked at, Jasmine said doctors believed it was simply a flare-up of his Crohn’s Disease.

In November, Nathan received his biopsy results, finding out he had a rare form of cancer — Grade 3 dedifferentiated liposarcoma which came with a “grim” prognosis.

Jasmine said hearing the news was a “pure shock,” before the sadness set in. She said they have a tight-knit family, and she holds a close bond with her brother.

“Family is so important to me, and my brothers have been such a rock to guide me through school,” the youngest of four said.

She said a big part of her decision to attend the University of Windsor was knowing her brothers, Nathan and Dylan, would be there to lean on while away from their Tillsonburg home.

Given the rarity of Nathan’s cancer, and the size of his tumour, the family knew this would be a long road ahead, and they would likely need to seek treatment outside of the London area.

To help with medical expenses, a GoFundMe page was launched, which as of Friday afternoon has raised $60,297 of its $200,000 goal.

“We’ve gotten so much support from family, friends, community — people we never expected,” Jasmine said. 

“It’s truly made the difference and has given us the strength to make it through this.”

The family initially considered treatment in the United States due to long wait times in Ontario. However, after a consultation at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, Nathan was immediately accepted as a patient and started chemotherapy the next day.

According to the GoFundMe page, doctors cannot guarantee the treatment will be successful, but they have come up with an “aggressive” plan that includes chemotherapy and radiation to “hopefully shrink the tumor enough to be surgically removed.”

“We know Nathan still has a long road ahead, but we could not be happier,” the family posted in the “Save Nathan” Facebook group chronicling his treatment journey. “He is in good hands. We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone in our community.”

If doctors are unable to shrink Nathan’s tumour with this current course of treatment, different options would need to be explored, including a clinical trial or looking into options across the border — neither of which would be covered by insurance. 

Right now, the family is taking things “day by day, hour by hour” when it comes to Nathan’s treatment.

The community continues to stand by the Bull family by arranging care packages, cooking food, messages of support, and initiating various fundraising projects.

“We’re hoping for a miracle here,” Jasmine said.

You can follow Nathan’s cancer journey here.

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