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MAC's Kids - Stories from families we've been able to support through their cancer journey

Honoured to help support 35 Northern families to this point through their challenging times.

September 2022

On March 26th our granddaughter Alannah who we have custody of was diagnosed with a mixed phenomenon type leukemia ( both ALL and AML). This is quite rare affecting 3% of the leukemia patients. She was 12 years old, scared, confused and angry. We were air lifted to Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario from our home town of Sundridge Ontario. After waiting for the amazing team to come up with the plan that would work best for Alannah's treatment, we started our
2 1/2year journey of treatment. The staff at Cheo were so supportive and compassionate, we knew that they were doing all they could to help save this little girl. We were so blessed that we stayed at the Ronald McDonald house in Ottawa during our time away from home. My husband and Alannah's sister were able to stay with us for the first 3 months, then my husband returned to work at home.       

Alannah, her sister and I were a part of the incredible RMH family for the next 11 months. Treatments were long and difficult, with bumps along the road, but we made it home for Maintenance February 15th,2022. We still have monthly visits to Sudbury, and treatments and at Cheo every 3 months. Alannah has been feeling pretty good, and gaining strength and energy over the summer months. She still takes daily oral chemo, so we need to monitor her counts closely. Overall she has been amazingly strong and courageous. Looking forward to see what the future holds for this determined young lady.❤

December 2021:

My name is Becky and my daughter Charlotte was diagnosed with leukaemia in June. We are still in London fighting the fight and will be here until the spring. We are from Sault Ste. Marie and it’s so hard being far away from our loved ones. I know that you can relate.

We want to extend our sincere gratitude for the generosity. We have many additional costs managing life in two cities and this will help our family so much.

Happy Holidays and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Becky, John, Charlotte, Mila and Claire

Isabelle L.

It was supposed to be just a prescription pick-up, but it turned out to be so much more. When the doctor asked me to sit down, we knew that things were bad. At the time, our doctor thought it was cancer but wasn't sure what kind. We were referred straight to the Northeast Cancer Centre for more tests. The result was that Isabelle needed to be flown to Toronto immediately. We had no idea that we wouldn't return home for 48 days.

Isabelle was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The doctor told us the prognosis was good and the survival rate is high. We were so relived. We tried our best to prepare for the road ahead, but it was a challenge. Her treatments caused painful cramping and constipation, she developed high blood pressure, and got an infection at the port for her treatment. She contracted C-difficile which took such a toll that she had to learn to walk again. The worst was many non-responsive episodes which lasted several minutes at a time. A blood clot formed in her brain from previous chemotherapy. All the while, financial strain meant that our family could not be together.

Luckily, most of Isabelle's care takes place an hour away at the Northeast Cancer Centre in Sudbury. This saves us the gruelling six hour drive with a nauseous child in the back seat and means more time at home with my kids and my husband. The nurses at the clinic go above and beyond, especially when we have to make the trip back to Toronto for aspects of Isabelle's treatment that cannot be handled in Sudbury.

Our family is incredibly grateful for the support that we have received from the Miles Against Cancer Fund.

Breanna Baxter

Breanna was born healthy in March 6th 2000 and for the next 9 years she was rarely sick. One morning in September 2009 that all changed when she woke up and was unable to walk and her dreadful journey began.

An MRI was done and Breanna was flown to SickKids in order to operate on a tumour found on her lower spine. The diagnosis was our biggest fear: Glioblastoma Multiforme (Grade 4 cancerous spinaltumour), terminal cancer. The doctors at SickKids gave her 26 months to live - no cure, no hope. On October 30th 2009 we returned home to Sudbury where Breanna was able to receive radiation treatment at the Northeast Cancer Centre to help with symptom control. Breanna passed away on December 10, 2009, just two months after her diagnosis.

Breanna's mom, Koreen Huard, has kept her daughter's giving spirit alive with the creation of the Breanna's Walk Fund, in hopes of raising funds for Sudbury's pediatric cancer patients and their families through the Northern Cancer Centre Foundation. 

Breanna is sorely missed by those who were fortunate enough to meet her and her legacy will live on forever. 

Addylin S

In June of 2018 Addylin had a visit with her family doctor here in Sudbury. Addylin was sent for bloodwork due to her passing ut and not feeling well. 4 hours after the bloodwork was done we received a call to rush to the hospital as her numbers were very low. After a couple visits to the emergency department Addaylin was admitted on June 11th. Many bloodworms later and several other tests didn't give us any results. June 17th she was flown out to Ottawa to get a bone marrow aspiration to rule out Leukemia. The following morning she got bloodwork, and it confirmed that she did in fact have Leukemia. With that news, her father had to take a leave of absence from work and he and her brother Rowan packed up and drove down to Ottawa. She started treatment on the 9th and a couple days later was released from hospital.

She was admitted to the hospital in Ottawa a couple of times due to fevers. Wit this big change we had to pay for our accommodations near the hospital, our apartment back home, our food, new clothes (due to swelling) and travel expenses. We were finally allowed to head back to Sudbury in September with monthly visits to Ottawa. In March of 2019 Addylin finally hit maintenance and now takes oral chemo daily and visitsOttawa every 3 months. 

June 2023

Just a bit over a year ago, in early May 2022, our little family caughtCOVID. Our 2.5 year old daughter, Emma, seemed to have 

very mild symptoms, and they improved every day, until they didn’t. We knew something wasn’t right when small red/purple marks (petechiae) and unexplained bruises suddenly appeared. We brought Emma to the Sudbury hospital emergency room where they checked her blood and we received the worst news of our lives - it looks like she has leukemia. Emma also needed both a blood transfusion and a platelet transfusion, and we were quickly transported by air ambulance to Sick Kids in Toronto. Sick Kids confirmed the leukemia diagnosis and Emma’s cancer fight began.

Emma went through so many physical changes and side effects this past year while in treatment. She gained a lot of weight and then lost a lot of weight, had bouts of muscle weakness, leg pain and of course lost her hair. Then there was the unexpected hospital admission to treat a blood infection and another admission to treat pancreatitis (a less common side effect of one of the chemotherapies she received). There were countless blood draws, lumbar punctures,blood and platelets transfusions, scans, medications, and much much more. So many things her little body went through to fight off this disease. So many times Emma had to be strong and brave, and we had to be too.

Every procedure and event, Emma earned a bead through the hospital’s Bravery Bead program. By March 2023, she had already earned 358 beads!

Emma is in remission and has been since August 2022. It’s been a long road and it isn’t over - her treatment for leukemia is long (until August 

2024) but her prognosis is good and we are hopeful that she will be cured.

I still find it hard to believe everything we’ve been through this past year. No one should ever have to experience cancer, especially a child. I am still in awe at the outpour of prayers and support we continuously receive during Emma’s cancer journey. We are very lucky and blessed that a community of family, friends, coworkers, doctors, nurses, etc. has supported and rallied

 around us during our most difficult time, and helped us to not not only stay strong, but to stay positive and hopeful.

We are so incredibly grateful and we can’t THANK YOU enough for your support during our toughest time through the Miles Against Cancer Fund. Your family is an inspiration and we hope to give back in any way we can to support the cause.

Mel, Tadd & Emma

Dear Mac,

When I received your letter, I couldn’t quite find the words. And a week later I still can’t.

My husband of 13 years (Leo) and I are the blessed parents of Solana (10 years old) and Grayson (8). On May 4th, Grayson and I were flown out to London, ON from our hometown of Sault Ste Marie where just a few hours later he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This was a complete shock to us all, as Grayson’s only symptom was a sore shoulder.
We were separated from Leo and Solana (due to restrictions from COVID-19) for two weeks while Grayson was an inpatient. Once Grayson was released, we rented a house here in London as other housing options were unavailable due to the pandemic.

A few days before receiving your funding, we found out we would be required to stay here in London for at least 6 months as Grayson’s treatment needed a new protocol as he moved into the high risk category.

We felt lost knowing that we wouldn’t be able to go home.

But receiving your letter, and your aid... allowed us to exhale. An exhale we haven’t felt in a long while. We felt not so alone. We felt “taken care of”. John and Tracey, what your family has been through is what no family should ever ever go through. But you have found a way to turn your pain into purpose.

Our family will forever remember your kindness to help another family get through this time with less worry.

Thank you so so much, from the bottom of grateful hearts.

Sonia, Leo, Solana and Grayson

Caz Taback

It was 1991 when I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in my leg. It was tough news to hear at 11 years of age. Those experiences drove me to being who I am today and they're also why I'm passionate about giving back to pediatric oncology at Northeast Cancer Centre. 

Physical wellness is definitely at the core of my everyday life and has been even before I opened the Sudbury Kettlebell Club. Whether it's taking part in an activity for myself or coaching hockey and promoting physical wellness, staying fit keeps me going. So I figured why not get others involved and give back to the place that helped me when I was a kid? That's when I started the 1-Hour kettlebell swing marathon "Kettleballs for Cancer" and raising money for Northern Cancer Foundation. 

There's a reason why activity is often suggested as a part of a cancer treatment plan. It's awesome too see people bettering themselves and helping to better the lives of the youngest patients at the Cancer Centre.