Posted On Thursday November 10, 2022
Dylan Waduck rang the bell at Sick Kids Hospital after 850 days battling cancer.

Sinclair student beats cancer, advances to OFSAA championship race

Dylan Waduck is a Grade 10 student at Sinclair Secondary School in Whitby. Dylan is passionate about sports, is an honour roll student, and enjoys spending time with friends and family.

He’s also been battling cancer for the past two and a half years. In May 2020, when Dylan was just 12 years old, he was diagnosed with T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

Support from all sides

From day one, Dylan and his mom Gina both say they have had incredible support from the school and sport communities. “When Dylan came home from the hospital after he was first diagnosed, his hockey and lacrosse teammates organized a big car parade,” says Gina. When recalling the car parade, Dylan says “it really felt like people were behind me and were going to help me get through the long road ahead.”

At the time of his diagnosis Dylan was attending John Dryden Public School. Between countless medical appointments, undergoing chemotherapy treatments, and the pandemic, Dylan was homeschooled for most of his Grade 8 year.

To ensure Dylan was able to keep up with the rest of his classmates, his Grade 8 homeroom teacher Jason Mottershead routinely came to the Waduck’s home to keep him up to date on the schoolwork.

“I wanted to help him with his homeschooling because he was so driven and so determined to keep up with his work, and I wanted to do anything that I could to support him,” explains Jason. He adds that students in Dylan’s class would often send messages and he would relay those to Dylan. “There was a lot of support in the school community for Dylan and he was never far from people's thoughts.”

When Dylan was ready to return to in-person learning, Gina says he was able to merge seamlessly back into Mr. Mottershead’s classroom thanks to his ongoing support.

The Sinclair Secondary School community has also shown incredible support for Dylan since he entered Grade 9 last year. Staff and students organized an assembly in honour of Dylan in coordination with the Terry Fox run, where the message was all about perseverance and shirts with the hashtag #DylanStrong were given out to staff and students.

Keeping positive all the way through

As Dylan’s chemotherapy treatments continued, his passion for sport never wavered. He has continued to play rep hockey and lacrosse. Last year he even competed in the Lake Ontario Secondary School Association (LOSSA) cross country race and made the Sinclair hockey team. Now in his Grade 10 year, Dylan is once again in the process of trying out for his school’s hockey team.

On September 2, 2022, 850 days after his initial diagnosis, Dylan rang the bell at SickKids Hospital signifying triumph over his battle with cancer. When asked if he has any key pieces of advice to share with kids who may be going through similar experiences, Dylan says, “I always look at the positives more than the negatives. It’s important to keep things positive all the way through and never stop - to never give up.”

Shortly after finishing cancer treatment, Dylan ran the LOSSA Cross Country finals and advanced to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championship race, being one of four Sinclair students to do so. Dylan says making the jump to OFSAA this year was a huge accomplishment for him, especially because he placed second last at the previous LOSSA competition. “Last year I was in the toughest days of treatment when I ran the LOSSA race and my goal was to only finish. This year my goal was to compete near the middle of the pack, but I did even better and qualified for OFSAA.”

On November 5, Dylan competed against hundreds of students from across Ontario in the OFSAA championship cross country event hosted at Dagmar Ski Resort in Uxbridge. Just before his 5-kilometre race, organizers of the event recognized Dylan and his journey, inspiring his fellow runners.

He placed 207th out of 249 with a run time of 21 minutes and 16 seconds. On his success at OFSAA Dylan says, “running at OFSAA this year was an achievement itself but running as well as I did was a greater accomplishment. Being able to run after what I've been through made me so proud of myself. I have trained hard and thank my cross country coaches for believing in me.”

A lot to look forward to

Reflecting back on Dylan’s journey, Gina says their family has learned a lot about perseverance and the importance of community. “It’s not anything that anyone would expect to have to be a part of but you’re strong because you have to be, and you just get through it. The support from the sport and school communities and local organizations has really kept us going throughout.”

With beating cancer now checked off his list, Dylan has so many exciting experiences to look forward to. One special event he is eagerly anticipating is a family trip to Disney World. Gina explains, “we didn’t want to travel during treatment, so Make A Wish was able to grant us a trip for after treatment. We are going to Disney World to celebrate the New Year!”

Dylan says he and his family have never been to Disney World, “I don’t know what to expect, but I’m really excited.”

Watch Dylan’s journey on YouTube