Older brother’s bone marrow transplant brings Peterborough hockey player back on the ice

Cooper Paterson felt helpless as leukemia ravaged his younger brother Jordan Preston and one treatment after another failed.

So when doctors rushed a bone marrow transplant last spring, Paterson jumped at the chance to donate.

“It didn’t take a second to say I’m on board,” Paterson said. “You want the ability to help anything… I felt like I was banging my head against a wall for six months while he was having chemo because I wasn’t able to to help.”

Although Paterson, 25, is nine years old than Preston, 16, they bonded early on for the love of hockey – mini-sticks, back rink and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Just after Christmas, eight months after the May 19 transplant and 13 months after diagnosis, Preston was back on his skates. His latest tests show no trace of leukemia.

“It came back to me pretty quickly,” Preston said. “It shocked me a bit. I thought I would need some time. It was really good. It was like a relief because that’s what I was looking for.

He played for the Bantam A Petes in 2020 but knew a return this season was unlikely.

“My goal was to play pond hockey as much as possible and hang out with my friends,” he said.

“Being an older brother and going through that was pretty terrifying not really knowing where the other end was going to end up,” Paterson said. “It’s pretty amazing and surreal to put on the skates and fight again and see him smile.”

“It’s been amazing, especially the last few weeks,” said their mother Monica Preston. “Jordie smiles and has fun and whips. He’s not the kid he was a year ago when we didn’t know what was going to happen. My heart is full to see him right now.

Tuesday will mark another milestone as Preston returns to classes at Adam Scott Collegiate for the first time in nearly 15 months.

“I’m really looking forward to it. A lot of my friends and teachers are excited to see me again. I’m really excited to have a little more of my life back, a little more normalcy,” he said.

Feeling normal took a while after the transplant.

“It was almost like a switch had flipped. I was on this path to getting better and every day I felt a little bit better, but it was a little before Christmas when it just clicked,” he said. he declares.

Five of his siblings were donor candidates, but Paterson was the stronger match.

“It was a bit more special,” Preston said. “I don’t want to shoot my other siblings, but Cooper and I have been close since the day I was born. My mom calls us two peas in a pod. We pretty much do everything we can together. C It’s mostly related to sports. It was just special because I felt like the closest person in my life was giving me a second chance.

It was thrilling as several treatments and medications failed against his rare form of leukaemia.

“(The transplant) was pretty close to his last resort,” Monica said. “If that turned out not to be an option, there was a small possibility of embarking on an experimental study.”

They are now supporters of blood and stem cell donation. The donation process is much less invasive than it once was. Doctors no longer need to break a bone to retrieve stem cells. Paterson took a series of injections over four days to stimulate stem cell growth, and a dialysis machine filtered the cells from his blood. He had pain in his bones and joints, but it only lasted a few days.

“I thought about what Jordan had already been through and there was no comparison,” Paterson said.

Catherine J. Martinez