A young Sudbury man who faced many medical challenges throughout his life passed away Jan. 17 at the age of 22.
Sudbury.com (and its predecessor publications) featured Nicholas Fex’s story several times throughout his short life.
Fex was born with tracheoesophageal fistula; a condition in which an abnormal channel, called a fistula, connects the windpipe – or the trachea – to the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach – called the esophagus.
Food and saliva can get into the lungs through this channel, which can make a child cough or choke and lead to lung infections or pneumonia.
He had to be rushed to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, where surgeons attempted to repair his esophagus, but stretched it too much.
They had to install a metal stent to keep his esophagus from collapsing – and when he was around a year old, installed a second stent after the middle of his esophagus collapsed.
Fex nearly died leading up to that surgery.
Fex breathed through a tracheotomy. He could not eat solid food and sustained himself on a steady diet of Peptamen 1.5, a liquid supplement similar to Ensure, that he receives through feeding tubes.
“It's been a wild ride,” Fex told Sudbury.com in a 2015 interview after his mom, Lyne Fex, started a GoFundMe campaign to help cover his medical equipment costs.
At the time of that interview, Fex was 17 years old, and had already undergone 45 surgeries.
His obituary said “Nicholas the fighting man was the biggest fighter ever …
“Nicholas lived life to the fullest and always had a smile on his face no matter what. He will be dearly and truly missed by way too many people; he was an inspiration to all. Your wings were ready, but our hearts were not. You no longer have to be in pain and fight. Our hero. Till we see you again.”
Fex was a big fan of the Sudbury Wolves, and the hockey club paid tribute to the young man on its Facebook page upon his passing.
“The entire Sudbury Wolves organization mourns the loss of long-time super fan and supporter Nicholas Fex,” the statement said.
“We send our deepest condolences out to his family and friends. We will dearly miss Nicholas, one of our biggest fans. Nicholas was an inspiration to our players and staff. His positivity was contagious and endless.
“We will cherish his high fives in the tunnel as our team went out onto the ice each and every game. We will never forget you. Howl on! #ForeverWolves.”
Fex’s obituary said he is survived by his parents Lyne Fex (Duane Forest) and Rob Fex (Joanne Fex).
He was the loving brother of Casandra Fex (Nick), Katryna Fex (Yvan), Scarlett Richer Fex, Corey Forest (Hailey), Hope Bohlmann (Kyle) and Tiara Lafantaisie (Jesse).
Fex was the beloved grandson of Jacqueline Beaudoin (Late Jean-Guy), late Lesley Richards (Guido) and Lloyd Fex (Wendy and Michael).
He will also be sadly missed by many aunts, uncles and cousins, his best friends Laura and Wyatt, and his girlfriend Ariel Tremblay.
The family thanked Fex’s medical team, including the pediatric unit and the ICU staff at HSN, the staff and nurses at Bayshore and Canadian Shield, and all the doctors who helped him throughout his life.