Published on November 04, 2013
Hundreds of people gathered for a prayer vigil in November for 15-year-old Riley Mercer outside his family home in Conception Bay South. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
Published on December 10, 2013
On Nov. 30, fans of the Penney Kia St. John’s Junior Hockey League’s CBR Assante Wealth Management Renegades gathered at the Robert French Memorial Stadium in support of Riley Mercer, a C.B.S. boy who was battling a rare form of brain cancer. In honour of Riley, each of the players on the Renegades wore his name on their jersey in a game against the Southern Shore C&W Offshore Breakers. On Tuesday morning, Riley passed away. He was 15. — Submitted photo by Chris Carter
Boy, 15, dies following public struggle with cancer
In their darkest hour, the family of Riley Mercer is looking toward the light.
“The key thing I think is how peaceful it was when he passed away. Riley wasn’t in any pain,” says family friend, Rick Webber.
He never took any pain medication throughout his entire ordeal, in fact. Riley was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in January of last year. On Tuesday he died. He was 15.
It’s a story his parents, Bernie and Louise, likely find all too familiar. Riley’s sister, Alex, died in 2002 after living with a cancerous brain tumor for 15 months.
Louise kept everything in when Alex passed away, Webber says. During Riley’s sickness, she was very open. All they asked people for was their thoughts and prayers, he adds. The community responded widely going beyond that with vigils, gatherings and fundraisers.
As people gathered to support Riley it was as though Riley’s attitude gave them back just as much strength or more.
“He never complained once,” says Webber.
His parents gave him 24-7 care, checking on him upwards of 30 times a night.
“It was never ‘If I get better’. It was always ‘When I get better’,” Webber says of Riley’s outlook.
That positivity gave the community strength and is still giving his parents strength even now that Riley is gone.
“They didn’t get the miracle that they wanted but they did get a miracle. That was Riley himself and what he did for people around him,” Webber reflects.
A note on the Friends of Riley Mercer Facebook group from his mother Monday said they were taking him to the hospital. Webber wasn’t at the boy’s bedside but he’s heard the story of his last moments.
“Louise told Riley, she said ‘You know, it’s OK to go. If you’re tired of fighting, don’t worry about us. We’ll be OK. And you can be with your sister, Alex’.”
With that, Riley took his last breath.
“That’s amazing, right. Because he would never do anything without his mother’s permission,” says Webber.
Right now the family is on autopilot, according to Webber, but what they want is positivity. Positive energy around them and positive memories of Riley.
“They didn’t get the miracle that they wanted but they did get a miracle. That was Riley himself and what he did for people around him.” Rick Webber, family friend
“They know that they’ve got a lot of support — community support and group support.”
Webber adds that he doubts anybody gets over the loss of a child but he also hopes people don’t forget Riley and his family. He hopes people will be there for them with their fine memories of their boy into the future.
“What the community has done has allowed them to cope. Especially in C.B.S. It allows them to cope.”
Boy dies following public struggle with cancer
Fifteen year old Riley Mercer of Conception Bay South has died.
The news was confirmed by a family friend, Rick Webber, this morning on the page of a Facebook group called Friends of Riley Mercer.
“On behalf of Bernie and Louise - Riley passed away earlier this morning at the Janeway … he was 15 years old. He was the most wonderful kid you could ever meet. Details to follow. You will never walk alone”
An earlier post on the group’s page from Louise Mercer, Riley’s mother, reads - “Gone to the hospital with Riley. Everybody please pray for our miracle. We need it right now ......”
In January 2012, Riley was diagnosed with cancer. The diagnosis came shortly after doctors detected a brain tumor from which Riley lost his hearing and sight. His health struggles became publicly known with many people offering support to the family and praying for Riley to pull through.
In 2002, Riley’s sister, Alex, died of a cancerous brain tumor at the age of nine following a 15-month battle.