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GoFundMe launched for Okotoks family after son's brain tumour diagnosis

Kolton Byerley, a 13-year-old living in Southern Alberta, underwent surgery to remove a cancerous brain tumour earlier this month is now learning to walk, talk and eat again.
FM Yooneek Books BWC 0822
Rae-Lynne and Sean Byerley with their sons Kolton (left) and Weston in front of their book shop, Yooneek Books, on Aug. 1, 2021. At the start of May, Kolton was diagnosed with a brain tumour and is now suffering from Cerebellar Mutism Syndrome. (Brent Calver/File Photo)

OKOTOKS, Alta — It hasn't exactly been business as usual for the owners of a Southern Alberta book store over the last few weeks after they were met with an unexpected tragedy. 

Sean and Rae-Lynne Byerley, owners of Yooneek Books, an independent book store in Okotoks, Alta, had to close their doors for a few days at the beginning of May after it was discovered that son Kolton, 13, was suffering from a brain tumour. 

According to Yooneek's Facebook page, the teenager was diagnosed May 4 at the Alberta Children's Hospital following prolonged headaches. On the morning of May 5, he endured an eight-hour surgery to remove the growth, which was located at the back of his brain, near the spinal colum.  

Kolton is now faced with a side effect known as Cerebellar Mutism Syndrome, which limits his ability to move and speak on his own. He is currently undergoing rehab at the hospital to re-learn skills such as walking, moving, eating and speaking, according to a social media post. 

In that same post, Sean wrote that a partial pathology has indicated the tumour was cancerous. 

"We are now in it for the long haul," he wrote. "What we originally thought would be days has already turned to weeks, and is now going to become months.

"Through radiation and chemotherapy we hope we can beat this thing. We have heard many stories of people with similar stories to us that have been dropping by the store. For that we are appreciative and we know we aren’t alone in this.

"We will fight this and we will beat this." 

While the Byerleys haven't been able to return to the store, it is being managed by family for the time being. 

A GoFundMe page has been established to collect funds for the family during this time of uncertainty. To donate, visit the team fundraiser page

According to family, Kolton loves camping, baseball, reading and baking cakes from scratch. He also loves spending time with friends and his brother Weston. 

"Kolton truly is everything you'd expect from a 13-year-old with a love for life and the ability to make anyone laugh," the fundraising page reads. 

The family thanked the community for its support as it navigates uncharted waters. 

"First off, the store is our family business. We built it together, we work in it together, it is our lives and our livelihood, and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of this community," said a Facebook post. "Thank you for that."

"In the coming days and weeks, we may have to close a day here and there, we may have different faces in working to help us make ends meet, we just don’t know what is going to happen. Please be patient with us and continue to support us."