Country music superstar Garth Brooks paused his Calgary concert on Friday when he noticed a fan holding a simple cardboard sign that read, “Today my son is cancer-free.”
“We were just expecting, you know, maybe it to show up on the screen, maybe get a shout-out, that kind of thing,” Gale Gariepy told CTV Calgary on Monday. “But we never expected what actually happened.”
The Prince Albert, Sask. woman was in the city for her six-year-old son’s cancer treatment. And just hours before the show, Gariepy received news that she had long been yearning for: following a harrowing 13-month battle with leukemia, Mason was finally cancer-free.
“If you need something to be happy about, this would be it,” Brooks told the crowd in Calgary’s Saddledome.
For more than two minutes, Brooks chatted with Gariepy from the stage, asking about Mason and his fight.
“Anybody who’s a parent will know this,” Brooks said in a video from the concert that’s now been viewed on Facebook more than a quarter of a million times. “You’ll deny it, but me, as a parent, I will say it for you: as hard as that child has fought, I know that you have fought a hundred times harder.”
Brooks then asked Gariepy how long it will take for Mason’s immune system to recover. When she said “two years,” the country singer hatched a plan.
“We’re going to miss him,” Brooks, who’s playing a string of shows in the city until Sept. 9, said. “So I’ll tell you what — I need you to take something to Mason from me, okay?”
Brooks then borrowed a marker and scrawled a note to Mason (“Take care of your mama!”) before signing the guitar.
“May you never have to worry about the frigging C-word again, honey,” Brooks exclaimed as the crowd cheered. “You give Mason a hug for me. You have all of my strength and all of my joy. Congrats!”
For Gariepy, Brooks’ words definitely struck a chord.
“I remember holding my face lots because I was trying not to cry,” she told CTV Calgary. “I was just trying to hold it together and stuff and the crowd went wild it was just amazing I felt like I had 14 thousand new friends there.”
But as touching as the moment was, Gariepy says that highlight of her day occurred just three hours earlier.
“People have asked me which one’s bigger: cancer-free or Garth Brooks,” she said. “Obviously its the cancer-free, but what other better way to have 14 thousand complete strangers rooting for your son.”
With files from CTV Calgary