News

Xavier Garrett fought brain cancer with 'dignity, courage and strength'

By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

Xavier Garrett

Xavier Garrett

A little boy whose story, life and bravery inspired an entire community has died just a couple weeks shy of his eighth birthday.

Xavier Garrett, beloved son of Mark and Carla and adored twin brother of Mackenzie, died of brain cancer early Saturday morning in his mother’s arms with his family surrounding him.

“This is such a massive devastating blow to our family,” said his father Mark Garrett. “But what Carla and I can say is as devastating as this is to us, we know there will be no more pain, procedures or treatments. He can run like a little boy again.”

Despite his shyness, Xavier, who loved to run and adored Star Wars, was good hearted, had a great sense of humour and loved to laugh.

“There are so many things we will miss. He had such a beautiful smile and he was a gentle soul,” Garrett said. “He had such an understanding of the world. We were lucky enough to tell him how we felt and say goodbye.”

Xavier was diagnosed at eight months with an incurable brain tumour. He underwent surgery but doctors were not successful at removing all of the cancer, and Xavier endured chemotherapy and 33 days of whole brain radiation.

For five years the tumour remain stable, until a routine scan showed it had grown. Again surgeons could not remove all of the growth.

Last year an emergency MRI revealed the original mass had doubled in size. During surgery he suffered a mini-stroke. Doctors prescribed steroids to manage his symptoms.

Despite undergoing more pain and procedures than anyone can ever imagine — Xavier rarely complained.

“Only once did he ask me why this was happening to him and said something like ‘this isn’t fair,’” Garrett said. “He took it like a champ — with dignity, courage and strength.”

Despite Xavier’s fragile condition, news that he was palliative in recent weeks came as a shock to the family after Xavier became sick and they rushed him to the ER last Monday.

Garrett said the health team from McMaster Children’s hospital went above and beyond to assist his family. Two doctors and two nurses accompanied the family to their Woodstock home Friday, to set up equipment so that Xavier could die at home. As they were leaving the hospital all his health-care providers gathered to say good-bye.

“It was pretty amazing the level of compassion,” he said. “We are so grateful.”

Garrett also said his family has been overwhelmed with support from both friends and strangers.

“The community of Woodstock has been overwhelmingly supportive,” Garrett said. “We’ve had strangers send messages of positivity. Various businesses have wanted to help. Algonquin Public School, Jacob’s Story — they have all been just excellent — compassionate and caring.”

Garrett said Xavier will be cremated in his Darth Vader costume.

Friends are invited to join the family at the Brock and Visser Funeral Home, Tuesday May 16, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. and again at Calvary Pentecostal Church, Wednesday May 17 from 1 pm – 2 pm where the complete funeral service will be held in the church sanctuary at 2 p.m.

HRivers@postmedia.com