When their son Tyce was diagnosed with eye cancer, Michael and Chelsey Bellefeuille were grateful for an outpouring of support online. Then they noticed fake accounts that were using their son’s picture and story to make money.
“I just noticed that he wasn’t really making eye contact with me and it just felt like something was wrong with his vision,” explained Chelsey Bellefeuille.
He was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a type of eye cancer that is common in children but only diagnosed in about 25 people per year in Canada. Doctors told them that the tumor was too big for effective chemotherapy and it would have taken two years of treatments.
“Doctors just recommended that they just remove his eye because even if they did treat it with chemo and the tumor went away, he would still be blind out of it,” Michael Bellefeuille said.
Tyce will need to be fitted with new prosthetic eyes as he grows up, and his family will need to travel to many more follow up appointments with the top Canadian eye specialist in Toronto.
Before their trip to Toronto for Tyce’s surgery, Michael Bellefeuille’s brother Cole Bellefeuille set up a GoFundMe page to help them pay for travel and medical expenses.
“It brought tears to our eyes, even talking about it still brings tears to our eyes to see that support even from people we’ve never heard of,” Michael Bellefeuille said.
The website raised more than $23,000 from family, friends and strangers and their workplaces raised an additional $5,000.
“Being in the hospital and watching the GoFundMe grow, it just gave us the feeling that we were supported in Moose Jaw back at home,” Chelsey Bellefeuille added.
While they were overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers and friends, the family was angry when they discovered multiple fake accounts using a copy of Tyce’s picture and story.
“It’s just devastating to know that people would use other people’s misfortune to their advantage,” Chelsey Bellefeuille said.
“If people want to stoop that low, then I guess that’s what this world has come to,” Michael Bellefeuille commented.
They reported the fake fundraising pages to the GoFundMe website and the accounts were deactivated. They still pop up when you type in Tyce’s name but the links are taken down.
Right now the family is concentrating on what is important – the goodness of people who wanted to help, and the fact that they still have their son.