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‘Worst news imaginable’: Salmon Arm RCMP officer’s 9-year-old diagnosed with cancer

Fellow officers start fundraiser for family now living near BC Children’s Hospital
Pictured are Gage Penney, dad Tyler, mom Marlena and sister Savannah. (Photo contributed)

A family in Salmon Am received what a friend described as “the worst news imaginable” recently when they learned their 9-year-old son has a rapidly growing cancer.

Chad Inglis, a Salmon Arm RCMP officer, has started a GoFundMe page, Gage’s Fight, for his co-worker Tyler Penney, and Penney’s family Marlena, Gage, 9, and Savannah, 6.

Inglis said Gage had been experiencing issues with his stomach this past winter and had been in and out of the doctor’s office and emergency department. His stomach was hard and about four times normal size. On the weekend of Jan. 14 he was airlifted to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. A large tumour was found as well as cancer around his stomach walls.

Gage has since undergone two surgeries, along with bone marrow and spinal fluid tests, which resulted in a diagnosis of Stage 3 Burkitt Lymphoma. This means he will receive at least six months of intensive chemo, Inglis said.

Gage is in remarkably good spirits with his parents by his side giving him all of the love humanly possible, Inglis reported.

“He’s a pretty energetic kid from the get go so he’s obviously had highs and lows, but he’s tough like a trooper.”

Inglis and Penney both started their RCMP careers in Kitimat and then transferred to Salmon Arm about seven and six years ago respectively. Inglis speaks highly of Tyler and Marlena.

“Tyler and Marlena are both proud and humble people, and are the last ones to ever ask for help, but the first ones to offer it. Both are extremely giving people that constantly help those around them. Tyler has been a first responder for over 12 years now and the amount of people he has impacted and helped during his career is immeasurable. Marlena operates her own business, running a Spa full-time (Well’Spa) around Tyler’s ever changing shift-work schedule,” Inglis wrote on the GoFundMe page.

“It’s completely life changing. They’re basically going to be living down there for the next six months.”

Currently, Gage’s parents are staying at Ronald McDonald House while Savanna, in between visits to see her big brother, is with her grandparents in the Fraser Valley.

Because neither Tyler nor Marlena can work now, the funds raised are intended to address financial difficulties so their minds can stay concentrated on helping Gage overcome the disease.

Inglis described the Penneys as a “very very good family” and said the parents were stubborn about not wanting a fundraiser.

“I had to convince them that they don’t have a say. It’s non-negotiable. This is going whether you like it or not,” he smiled.

Inglis added that he doesn’t want to pressure anyone to donate. He said the Penneys very much appreciate the support and they have said they don’t know how they’re going to be able to thank everybody.

“They’re hurting so they definitely need it. Tyler would have done the exact same thing. It’s a cliché, but he’s literally one of those people that will do anything to help people, and his wife’s the same way.”

Inglis said that along with the GoFundMe page, he and other officers at the Salmon Arm detachment have set up a bank account at SASCU under the name Gage Penney, account number 1832047, where 100 per cent of the money will go to the Penney family. The account can be accessed at all four SASCU locations: two in Salmon Arm, one in Sicamous and one in Sorrento. E-transfers can be made to:

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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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