Liam Elder wins the hearts of Calgary Sailors

Liam Elder

10 Year Old Liam Elder

It has always been10-year-old Liam Elder’s dream to see the ocean, board a navy ship and see the shipyard, as his mother, Christine Harkin, used to serve with the navy.

During their visit to Victoria on March 6, Liam’s dream was fulfilled.

From the moment he set foot on HMCS Calgary, he made quite an impression to those onboard.

Liam visited the ship along with his parents and his nine-year-old brother Benjamin.

He came in Naval Combat Dress with the rank of Ordinary Seaman; however, his naval knowledge was soimpressive that he was immediately promoted to Leading Seaman and presented with his Bosun’s Call.

He toured the ship and watched a demonstration of the 57mm gun, followed by a naval boarding party display.

The tour ended with him becoming an honorary member of the ship’s dive team.

He displayed great skills as a sailor and was quickly promoted through the ranks throughout the day.

By the end of the visit, he was promoted to the rank of Commander, and then appointed Honorary Captain (Navy) of HMCS Calgary.

Liam was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia in March 2011 at the age of six.

He underwent harsh chemotherapies every three to four weeks, and in-between he was admitted to hospital many times for bacterial, viral and fungal infections, pneumonia and anaphylaxis, due to his compromised immune system.

He completed his protocol in late October 2013 and was completely medication free for nine months.

However, Liam relapsed in July 2014 with the same type of cancer, and chemotherapy began immediately.

The plan was to bring him to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto for a bone marrow transplant once the cancer was in remission.

However, a rare, life-threatening fungal infection was discovered in his nose and palate, which led to having two-thirds of his palate removed, as well as the septum in his nose.

Further surgeries removed a tear duct and the sinus cavity between his eyes.

In December 2014, the infection spread to Liam’s spine and resulted in another surgery that fused and cemented parts of his spine. 

Throughout all of this, Liam remained in high spirits and continued with his cancer protocol with the intent of moving towards bone marrow transplant this spring.

Unfortunately, it was discovered two weeks ago that the infection has spread to Liam’s brain.

Doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Toronto Sick Kids Hospital, and other world-renowned hospitals are trying to come up with options to save his life, but without treatment, Liam has about a month to live.

During their tour of Calgary, Christine had a chance to reflect on her time onboard a frigate and to showcase the life of a sailor to Liam. He especially enjoyed the RHIB ride of Esquimalt Harbour and was very keen to catch a fish for dinner.

Many members of CFB Esquimalt, such as the Military Police and the firefighters at the fire hall also had the privilege of meeting this extraordinary young man who undoubtedly left a lasting impression on everyone.

His strength and perseverance is an inspiration to us all.


SLt Elle Aminaie
HMCS Calgary

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  1. Ronald Lavigne says:

    I have tears just reading this, as for the HMCS Calgary I salute you all for the kindest
    that you all have showing Liam, you are truly a fine group of men and women.
    Liam I pray for you and that all will be ok.

  2. Santino Oberto says:

    This is so touching,to think that such a young man has to undergo such excruciating treatment and remain hopeful and strong is very inspiring and should make you understand that being healthy is actually such a big deal and one that deserves to be grateful for. I wish you the best of luck Liam and truly hopes you live on to tell your story in the future. Nice write up BTW

  3. Lyle Rayhel says:

    Looks like we’ve got another great writer on our hands in your son! Thanks for sharing this!! I am glad to hear the pacemaker is helping!

    LOVE IT! Awesome Contribution Liam, thank you sweetie.

  4. Lynn-Marie says:

    We want to see more pictures of Liam’s time onboard!!! I’d love to see all his promotions and time throughout!

  5. Teresa gilliatt says:

    Liam you are an inspiration to us all.very happy to hear your story.i wish you and your family all the best
    And you will on my mind and in my thoughts as the time goes by.keep smiling and keep us in touch.xxoo

  6. Linda Julius says:

    Liam as with all of you are in my prayers. I so wish I could do something else to help!
    Love ya all Linda

  7. Glenda says:

    Hail to you Warrior!!

  8. Capt(N) ret'd. R.G. May says:

    I am extremely proud of my grandnephew Liam. His determination, courage and perseverance are an example to us all.
    At the same time, my heart goes out to him and his family. No one should ever have to suffer such misfortune. They are constantly in my prayers.

  9. Ruthanne Urquhart says:

    Sad, heart-warming, well-written story. BZ, Calgary.

  10. Gordon Cotton says:

    Bravo Zulu to the crew of HMCS Calgary! You have certainly gone above and beyond, you have touched the hearts of many.

  11. Cameron says:

    Liam, you are an inspiration to us all stay strong and I will lift you up in prayer for a supernatural healing that only God can do. He will be your comforter in days to come rest in him!!!! You are so cool

  12. Capt Larry Allen says:

    Should you get an update to this story, I am positive your readers would be waiting on the edge of their seats to hear if there was a miracle in this young mans future.

  13. Cathy Wagner says:

    This story brought tears to my eyes. I know the Calgary crew, like the entire Base, are an amazing group of men and women. Thank you for making this little boy’s dream come true.

  14. Joan says:

    God Bless this little sailor and his family.

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