Give kids the gift
of comfort and joy
They say there's no place like home for the holidays. Few people understand that better than 15-year-old Lauren Gamble and her family. Your support this holiday season will help more kids like Lauren be home with their families, making special memories.
When Lauren was in the thick of her cancer treatments, all she wanted was to sleep in her own bed, watch TV on her couch and hang out with her family and friends. If she lived anywhere else in the country, that would have been out of the question.
On Friday, August 13, 2021, Lauren found out the pain in her leg was being caused by a tumour the size of a brick. She had osteosarcoma – bone cancer.
“Hearing that your active, athletic, healthy child has bone cancer is absolutely earth shattering,” says her mom, Lindsay. “Those words changed our lives forever.”
Her dedicated team of oncologists at the Alberta Children’s Hospital began treating Lauren immediately with the goal to save her life and her leg. They put Lauren on an intensive course of chemotherapy aiming to first shrink the tumour then remove the mass through surgery.
Despite having the best specialists caring for her, the harsh treatments left Lauren feeling nauseous, exhausted, and disheartened. To make matters worse, giving up her favourite activities – dance and horseback riding – and missing time with friends, family and her beloved dog during lengthy hospital stays took a huge toll on her spirit.
“When doctors said I might not dance again, I went home and placed all my dance clothes, shoes, medals, and certificates in a garbage bag and shoved them in my closet, thinking I would never use them again,” says Lauren. “I did not want the reminder.”
While specialists at the Alberta Children’s Hospital provide world-class care, the unfortunate reality is that current therapies can be incredibly taxing – both physically and mentally – on children.
You can help ease some of that stress and hardship by giving this holiday season.
Thankfully, generous community support made it possible for Lauren to receive chemotherapy, intravenous medications and supportive therapy in the comfort of her living room through a first-in-Canada program called Hospital at Home.
“There were times when I didn’t know if I could handle more treatment,” says Lauren. “Thankfully, Hospital at Home was my saving grace.”
Hospital at Home allowed Lauren to spend 50 fewer nights in hospital than she would have had to without the program. Carrying her IV bag in her backpack, Lauren could leave her house to hang out with friends who wouldn’t have been able to visit her in hospital. She was able to go Christmas shopping, and even got her learner driver’s license!
“Hospital at Home gave Lauren the freedom to live her life as a typical teenager and gave her the mental strength she needed to push through the harsh treatments,” says Lindsay. “It allowed us to enjoy moments as a family that wouldn’t have been possible had she been in hospital. Those are memories we will cherish forever.”
Rather than spending Christmas in hospital, Lauren was gratefully able to spend the holidays at home.
Last November, surgeons skillfully removed Lauren’s tumour and reconstructed her leg in an 18-hour operation.
Following six more months of chemotherapy, her cancer was in remission. Unfortunately, just as Lauren was setting her sights on going back to school and her beloved activities this fall, the cancer has returned.
Though her road ahead is uncertain, Lauren and her family believe programs like Hospital at Home are needed now more than ever.
“Programs like Hospital at Home are so crucial for kids like Lauren so that even while going through a medical journey, they can still enjoy their childhoods and treasured time with loved ones,” says Lindsay. “We are grateful to generous people in our community who make programs like Hospital at Home possible.”
As we approach this season of giving, we hope Lauren’s story will inspire you to make a special holiday gift ― knowing your support can bring comfort and joy to young people like her who rely on the hospital.
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