VANCOUVER, BC – Kenton Doust just wasn’t feeling himself.
Doust, 13 at the time, had been throwing up all month. And on October 10, 2015, he ended up fainting and getting rushed to the local hospital in the Comox Valley, where a CT scan revealed three brain tumours.
That same night, he was airlifted into BC Children’s Hospital.
All he remembers from the helicopter ride was someone saying the Vancouver Canucks lost in a shootout to the Calgary Flames.
“They kind of wrecked it for me,” Doust joked.
Four days later, he had brain surgery.
Then, after four grueling months of chemo and 25 sessions of radiation, Doust found out he was cancer free on May 19 of this year. He called it “the best thing that’s ever happened” to him.
It’s a moment he’ll never forget. Neither will Russell Teibert.
The ‘Caps midfielder was in the room with Doust and his family when they got the good news.
“You could see the nervousness, excitement, almost fear in his face just waiting around,” Teibert recalled. “At one point we went to the hallway, we were just talking and having a good time. It was almost cheeky how the nurse said it to him. She said, ‘Your test results are fine. You’re great.’”
“She looked at me, I looked at him, I looked at the nurse; I guess she wasn’t even supposed to tell him really," Teibert continued. "I guess you’re supposed to wait for the doctor. The doctor comes in, tells his mom, she’s crying, Kenton’s obviously crying, I’m emotional being there. It’s a whirlwind of emotions. You almost don’t know how to explain it. I was so happy for him. So happy for the family. It was an incredible experience.”
And an experience that Teibert didn’t want to miss out on after developing a special relationship with Doust over the last year. It started late in 2015, when Doust was undergoing chemo at BC Children’s Hospital.
“I was feeling very sad,” said Doust, who travelled from the Island to Vancouver every three weeks for his treatment. “It was very difficult to go through. My hair, which I loved very much, fell out. It was hard. The chemo knocked you down completely. I could barely get out of bed some days.”
After hearing that Doust was a Whitecaps FC “superfan,” Teibert decided to send him a pair of autographed cleats and a jersey for Christmas. They didn’t even know each other at that point. They actually met the following month, when Teibert came by the hospital for a visit.
“We instantly just hit it off playing FIFA,” Teibert said. “For being in such a difficult position, the positive attitude he had, the smile on his face, it made me feel happy.”
And they kept in touch from that point forward, even spending a day together at Granville Island with Teibert’s sister and cousin. The four of them were actually planning to head back there this weekend to have another crack at an arcade game they just couldn’t beat the last time – some “unfinished business,” as Teibert put it.
“He’s just been a rock,” Kenton’s mom, Ivonne, said of Teibert.
Doust was never at the hospital for an official Whitecaps FC team visit, but he was able to meet the whole team at this year’s season launch party at The Commodore. The club even arranged to have him walk onto the stage with Pedro Morales to model the new jersey.
“It was amazing,” Doust said. “I got autographs from them all. I loved it. I felt very special, very respected, and very loved in a way.”
Doust said he’s also become close with ‘Caps defenders Christian Dean, who was named Vancouver’s 2016 Humanitarian of the Year for his community involvement, and Cole Seiler. In fact, the two of them recently took Doust out for lunch to celebrate his news of being cancer free.
“I just can’t thank the organization enough … and the wonderful players that we’ve been so blessed to meet,” said Ivonne. “Everybody has been amazing. It’s like a second family now.”
These days, Doust is feeling much stronger.
The 15-year-old hopes to get back onto the soccer pitch soon (last year he was named to a select team in the Comox Valley) and attend as many Whitecaps FC matches as possible next season.
He’s been a big fan since 2013 – but now, more than ever.
“They make me feel special, they encouraged me to keep fighting,” Doust said while fighting back tears. “Sorry, I’m getting emotional … it’s hard to explain. I just feel loved. I feel a part of the team, a part of the community that they have. It’s undescribable.”