When you sit down to talk with Anthony Farinon, you can tell that you are meeting a nice young man. But this well-spoken, personable guy is going to trick you. From the inside pocket of his stylish blazer Anthony pulls a deck of cards, just a normal deck of cards, and invites you to pick one, any one you like. All you can do is sit back and be amazed. You think you will see the trick coming, but you won’t. Luckily Anthony is a good-natured and kind trickster. He doesn’t make you feel too bad. He understands that things don’t always turn out the way you think they will.
When Anthony’s leg rash and aching wouldn’t resolve, his mom Julie decided it was time to head to the doctor. What followed was a turn of events even Julie’s medical training as a nurse couldn’t prepare her for; Anthony was diagnosed with high risk pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Julie says being a nurse was a “blessing and a curse” in that moment, she could understand what the doctors at CHEO were telling her and she knew how serious it was. “I thought we would go home,” Julie says of that visit to CHEO, but Anthony would spend ten months on CHEO’s oncology ward, 4North, in that first year of treatment. Anthony doesn’t remember every detail but he does remember that there was a lot of chemotherapy. He also remembers playing in the playroom, making friends with the other patients and how the team on 4North can “turn a bad thing into a good day.” Anthony has a devilish smile and you can imagine him making the best of his time at CHEO, but he really lights up when he talks about leaving, he beams when he says “going home is awesome!” This young man has a lot of plans for the future and he is eager to get going. One year to the day of his diagnosis Anthony returned to school. He missed grade three and part of grade four but now he’s back into the swing of things. Working on his math skills, which he loves doing, all with a view to following in his grandfather’s footsteps and becoming a mechanical engineer. For now he’s focused on being an 11-year-old magician. Watching him practice with another rascal, CHEO’s resident clown Molly Penny, you are seeing two masters at work, or more accurately, at play. Anthony has a friendly and warm nature. He seems to see good where others might not. When asked who his favourite superhero is he answers, “Magento.” Sure to some he’s not a hero, but Anthony is focused on his ability to generate magnetic fields. Obviously this would appeal to an engineer.