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Fredericton teenager who inspired thousands with his public cancer battle has passed away

(kake)

In the final months of his life, Fredericton resident Harrison Gilks sparked a movement of positivity and adventure by crossing off “bucket list” things while fighting cancer. The 18-year-old passed away on Thursday. He gained more than 300,000 fans on TikTok for his series.

According to CBC news, Harrison’s hometown collected money over the past eight months to fulfill his last wishes, which included a helicopter flight over New York City and Jasper, Alberta, meeting Montreal Canadiens players, going to a Los Angeles Rams football game, and relaxing in Mexico.

On March 21, Harrison’s farewell TikTok video was posted. He announced that his series was over and that he didn’t have much time remaining. “It’s been a great ride with you guys on the bucket list series … bucket list complete,” he said.

Trevor Gilks said his son will be recalled for his big heart, social energy, passion for sports, and never-say-die attitude.

He described the experience of following Harrison on all of his final trips as both unique and emotional. Harrison’s family was aware that he was going through a number of “firsts and lasts.”

“Every time there was something that would put a big grin on his face and you could tell at that moment he forgot about cancer,” said Gilks.  “You see those moments and it’s all worth it.” 

@harrisongilks1

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♬ original sound – Harrison

In November 2020, Harrison was identified with rhabdomyosarcoma. Gilks stated that he had a large tumor in his prostate area as well as spots on his lungs. He was subjected to months of treatment and radiotherapy.

He showed signs of remission by February 2022. “We packed up and went on a couple of vacations down south to celebrate,” Gilks explained. Only a few months later, the malignancy returned stronger than ever. Harrison’s family was informed that he was terminally ill.

Gilks stated that this is when Harrison chose to begin his series. Harrison announced his terminal diagnosis in a TikTok video in June, which went global with 1.5 million views. Gilks stated that he and his wife, Sonya, were ready to grant any of Harrison’s final wishes, but the community’s efforts removed that financial burden.

“It’s like a whole community looked after making this possible,” he said. “That’s what chokes me up the most, having strangers wanting to be a part of it.

“Until this, we were pretty private and stubborn. We wanted to do everything on our own. But it was quite remarkable to watch people step up.” According to Gilks, the community got together from all over to give donations and experiences.

Jake Allen, a Fredericton native and goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens, organized for Harrison to remain on the bench during a game.

@harrisongilks1

Sorry for the delay getting it up, had alot of content to go through. I hope you guys enjoyed it, hopefully more content like this to come in Mexico! #bucketlist #helicopter #rockymoutains #rockies

♬ original sound – Harrison

“All the players came over to talk with me,” Harrison said in a TikTok video. “It was pretty cool.”

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