“SickKids isn’t a ‘club’ you want to belong to, but because we do, everyone at the hospital tries to make it easier for us,” said Christie, mother to nine-year-old Jadyn.
Jadyn first joined the ‘SickKids club’ in November 2008. A few weeks prior, she experienced some numbness and eventually paralysis on the left side of her face. She underwent an MRI at her local hospital and doctors diagnosed her with Bell’s Palsy, a disorder of the nerves, which affects movement in the face. She was discharged and sent home shortly after.
The next day, her doctor called and told Christie to drive Jadyn straight to The Hospital for Sick Children where she would remain for three-and-a-half weeks. Jadyn didn’t have Bell’s palsy. Instead, specialists confirmed Jadyn had a rare malignant brain tumour and required emergency surgery to remove the mass.
On November 18, 2008, a surgeon removed 98 per cent of Jadyn’s tumour. Following the procedure, Jadyn underwent six weeks of chemotherapy and several rounds of radiation.
Unfortunately, Jadyn has relapsed three times since the initial diagnosis: March 2010, August 2011 and September 2012. She required surgery to remove the tumour the first two times followed by radiation to treat the aggressive cancer. Jadyn has endured 93 rounds of radiation. Today, she is closely monitored by SickKids staff.
Throughout these experiences, the staff and other SickKids oncology parents have helped Christie the most.
“Everybody is just so nice and happy to see Jadyn,” she said. “They make sure she’s enjoying herself but also take us, the parents, into consideration.”
Despite the obstacles Jadyn has overcome at a young age, she is a cheerful, feisty little girl who loves chatting with anyone and everyone. She understands the importance of giving back and has participated in a number of fundraisers for SickKids. Like other members of the ‘SickKids club,’ Jadyn and Christie are hopeful there will one day be a cure for all childhood cancer.
Jadyn is one of the many patients featured in this year’s brand campaign.
We had the pleasure of hearing Sitara, mother to SickKids patient Hunter, speak at our Insider Series Breakfast this week. She recounted her moving journey with SickKids to a room of donors and SickKids staff. Her son Hunter is featured in this year’s advertising campaign in a larger mural, showing all the people involved in his care.
Here are a few snippets from her speech:
I am the mother of the bravest little boy in the world!
My name is Sitara and my lifelong relationship with SickKids began three years ago. It was a fateful night in November 2009.
My son was diagnosed with cancer in the ER here at SickKids November 23, 2009. I can not tell you exactly how that changes you, because I am still evolving, still reeling and falling at times…some days I walk tall and strong and others I barely breathe. Each step of the way, however, I know our SickKids team is with us. It is together as a team that we fight and heal and grieve and celebrate and make discoveries. Together We Will is not just a brilliant fundraising marketing brand. It is our life.
Hunter was 2 years old: a stereotype of a little boy really. He had curly red hair and a mischievous smile with eyes that captivated you with their sparkle. Active and dangerous!
Hunter hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of weeks, low grade fevers somehow became the norm. He began to fuss about eating or wearing his shoes – terrible 2’s everyone said. Little did we know he was dangerously ill. His skin was pale, but the warm sun of summer had long past and everyone looks pale in the winter right…?
I remember packing up to go to the emergency room that night. Thinking we were closer to another hospital and it would be so much easier to just go there, but my husband insisted that we go to SickKids. I was thinking about how difficult that would make the next morning as we all headed to work and school and daycare. I was too tired to argue and so we headed to what I now refer to as ‘my downtown condo’!
I was sure he had the flu, just like his older brother had had a few weeks before…The ER staff here however knew otherwise. I remember thinking it was almost as if he had a flashing neon sign on his head that we were somehow blind to. Hunter’s leukemic blast cells were quite advanced and coursing through his peripheral blood stream. He had all the external and internal signs, they were just too subtle for a parent to ever see or imagine. So, what I thought would be a long night in the ER, has turned into a 3-year battle that continues.
We never went home; we never got a second opinion. We were at the best and only place to be. We were admitted immediately and quickly had a bone marrow aspirate to confirm the diagnosis and type of leukemia. Hunter’s protocol was tried and true and we very quickly had to jump aboard a fast moving train and learn with the guidance and help of the nurses and pharmacist and doctors how to care for our son. Then there was child life and psychology, how, how do you explain and prepare and protect your child as you walk this very precarious road of childhood cancer? How do you keep and give hope to a child when you feel helpless?
In January of 2011, weeks before our third child was born, there was a medical breakthrough in Hunter’s treatment. A study with two randomized arms and one was showing such significant results that the other arm was closed. This was real-time science, real time research that we could feel and see – it wasn’t theoretical and the impact was immediate and real.
We are so lucky to have the care team that we have. Our primary oncologist Dr. Hitzler is the most compassionate caring and knowledgeable doctor and has been the perfect fit for our Hunter. He has treated Hunter with such respect and dignity from their very first meeting, when others would have been tempted to focus in just on the parents. Having a top oncologist in your corner is awesome, but that he always makes time for Hunter’s questions and takes the time to answer them is what makes him great in our eyes. It is also what has chased away some of the fear that Hunter has surrounding his health and treatment. He needs to talk to his words, ‘a cancer expert.’
Hunter is wise and mature beyond his 5 years, but I guess that is what happens when you’ve been battling for your life for more than half your life…
Hunter believes in hope. He believes in his doctor and he believes in research. He wants answers. He wants cures and not just to his cancer, but to all the different cancers that his young friends have. I ask you to help him find the answers, to help the doctors and scientist to find the cures. And then you will feel the heartfelt thanks of all the moms and dads who wonder these halls.
Dreaming of a sleek new car? An exotic getaway? Or both? Perhaps you’re dreaming of winning some cash, maybe $1.5 million* to be exact? With the Dreams & Discoveries Lottery your dreams could come true, while giving children across Canada and the around the world a chance for a healthier life.
The fall 2012 Dreams & Discoveries Lottery is underway and tickets are selling fast! With our Group Purchase Program◊ you will be able to take advantage of our Best Ticket Pricing* It allows up to 25 people to get together and order 25 tickets for $500 – that is only $20 per ticket!
You could win an amazing new car like the 2012 Jaguar XJL Supercharged. Also up for grabs are the extra special Dream Packs prizes. Will you be jetting around in a 2012 Fiat 500 Coupe and taking off for seven days to explore Italy? Cruising around Bali, Singapore and Borneo for 16 days? Or maybe you’ll be the lucky winner of the $1.5 million* Grand Prize!
Your ticket purchase is helping kids like Grace who depend on the best-in-class treatment and care that SickKids provides. To learn more about the lottery and order your tickets please visit the Dreams & Discoveries Lottery website.
◊*See rules and regulations at www.sickkidslottery.ca. LL#4880