The immense love between parents and their child

My husband Tim and I first experienced the immense love between parents and their child when our daughter Gracie was born on January 11, 2005. She was our first child and allowed us to experience all the amazing firsts of being a parent.

Gracie has always been funny and the type of kid that captures your heart. As her mom, I have always felt she was special and strong. I never imagined that we would face cancer with her – I guess no parent does.

A few months before Gracie’s 3rd birthday, she began to limp slightly. I took her to the pediatrician thinking I was probably playing the overly cautious parent. The pediatrician thought maybe Gracie had sprained something while playing and instructed us to keep an eye on her. About a week later, the white of Gracie’s eyes began to have yellow tint. I took her back to the pediatrician, who seemed a bit more concerned. We were sent for blood work and an ultrasound of Gracie’s abdomen. The pediatrician’s phone call the morning after the ultrasound revealed that Gracie had a tumor growing from her bile duct into her liver. The feelings that followed that phone call cannot be [...] continue the story

The day our world fell apart

April 9, 2006. That was the day our world fell apart. The day those awful words, “Your daughter has cancer,” were delivered to us.

Our daughter had turned three two days before, and despite her complaining of a backache and a scratchy throat for a couple of weeks, we’d had a great celebratory weekend. We’d been to the pediatrician and urgent care several times with her symptoms, only to be assured that she had pulled a muscle and had seasonal allergies. The day after her birthday party, her symptoms seemed worse and my wife showed up at the pediatrician’s office demanding further tests. She collected me from work on the way to get our daughter’s blood draw and a chest x-ray. I was there when the radiologist came out, face white as a sheet, and told us to go back to the pediatrician immediately. I was there when the pediatrician looked at the x-ray film and went silent, her face the same color as the radiologist’s. I still see those faces three years later.

We were admitted to the local university hospital that night with an emergency CT scan at 2am. The diagnosis came at 7am the next day by a pathology [...] continue the story

Our Kids – Meet Elijah

In certain ways, Elijah, 6, is like any other child his age. He cries when he’s upset, he laughs when he’s having fun and attends grade one with other 6-year-old boys and girls. But only a year ago, he had difficulty expressing himself in these ways. At first glance today, you might not notice that Elijah struggles with epilepsy.

For nearly five years, Elijah was in and out of SickKids for tests, procedures and admissions. He was having up to six epileptic seizures per day. Since every case of epilepsy is different, he was constantly trying new prescriptions, combinations of medications and special diets. One medication was particularly effective, but caused significant side effects, including lowering his immune system.

Managing his seizures and reducing side effects from medications was a constant balancing act.

Running out of options, Elijah’s parents made the difficult decision for Elijah to have surgery to remove the portion of his brain controlling the seizure activity. The area was identified through advanced brain imaging techniques at SickKids.

Elijah had surgery in September 2010. His alertness and motor skills improved immediately and he has had an impressive reduction in seizures since then. Once completely nonverbal, Elijah is now starting to learn simple [...] continue the story

You Can Survive Your Child’s Cancer

As a hard-working mom of four, Mary Beth Schied was focused on building a secure future for her family. A kindergarten teacher, and busy mom and cheerleader for her baseball-playing team of youngsters, parenting had taught her about being present for kids 24/7. But most importantly, despite the constant sense of hurry and rush-rush, she felt there was no greater reward in parenting than having happy, active kids.

She and her husband, Chris, weren’t prepared for the detour life was about to throw at them – cancer.

Over Labor Day in September of 2007, the South Side of Chicago couple’s youngest son, Jake, who was not quite two-years-old, started complaining about a scratchy eye. A visit to the eye doctor revealed that Jake had a mass in his left eye. It was cancer. The next 24 hours were a blur. Jake was admitted to the hospital; surgery was scheduled immediately and chemotherapy began. Just one day into the new school year, Mary Beth went on a one-month leave, launching what would become a school year punctuated with frequent absences, while she stayed at her preschooler son’s side through multiple hospitalizations and treatments.

“The principal of my school said ‘whatever you have to do [...] continue the story

Angelo: Transplant

To hope, and not be impatient, is really to believe . . .

This has been the mantra for Angelo and his mother Cynthia for the past 2 years. Their patience paid off in August, 2008 when Angelo received a kidney transplant. Because of the transplant, Angelo is now an active, healthy 3-year-old – walking and learning to talk.

Angelo was 2 months old in December, 2005 when he was diagnosed with kidney failure – “Diffuse Mesangeal Sclerosis”. This diagnosis required him to have dialysis for 14 hours each day. Cynthia, who has an older daughter, Camila, played the role of mother and caregiver. She also volunteered to give Angelo what most mothers do only once – another birthday. She volunteered to donate one of her kidneys to Angelo.

Unfortunately, Cynthia’s kidney was not a good match for Angelo. Neither was his aunt’s, nor a kind stranger’s. Three times the family had a date set for Angelo’s transplant from living donors – and three times the transplant was cancelled, hopes dashed.

But Cynthia and Angelo never gave up. “When you have hope, faith and patience, I believe God will give you what you seek,” Cynthia explains.

In August, 2008, everything changed. Cynthia received the call [...] continue the story