Hockey Marathon Is For Kids Like Rosalie
Even though an x-ray hadn’t revealed anything troubling that would be causing persistent back pain for her three-year-old daughter, Laura knew something was up.
When the pain was only getting worse, she took Rosalie to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Emergency Department and, of course, Rosalie presented like a happy, healthy little girl at the time. Thankfully the sharp ER doc could feel right away that her lymph nodes were enlarged, as was her spleen.
It wasn’t long before blood work revealed that little Rosalie had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
That night, they were admitted to Unit One – the hospital’s oncology unit – and Rosalie’s treatment began. Chemo was tough at first and little Rosalie was weak and sick. It was heartbreaking. Laura was so grateful for the team that came around them at the hospital to walk them through those initial days of adjustment. Without that support, it was impossible to imagine navigating Rosalie’s 2½ year-long treatment protocol.
While it was great that there was treatment and a 95% cure rate for Rosalie’s cancer, it wasn’t without significant challenges. There were times when Rosalie had to take steroids. Laura says these drugs turned her daughter into a completely different kid. She would be famished and inconsolable. Another drug caused her blood sugar levels to become dangerously low and she needed to be monitored closely by the endocrine team. It also caused Rosalie great concern each of the three different times she had to lose her hair.
“It was so difficult, there were so many side effects, she was just not herself,” says Laura.
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Recently, new hope for young cancer patients has come from a different approach to treatment called immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of one’s own immune system to attack and kill cancer. It involves taking a sample of the patient’s cancer and isolating a specific target at which to point an immune response, and reprogramming the patient’s immune cells to attack that target.
Money raised through this year’s Hockey Marathon for the Kids will support ACTION (Alberta Cellular Therapy and Immune Oncology Initiative), which will explore new immunotherapy treatments with the goal to develop safe, effective and kinder therapies for kids like Rosalie, to minimize those adverse side effects and improve the cancer experience for patients.
It’s hard to believe that half of Rosalie’s life has involved being in cancer treatment. On January 29th her cancer journey was over as her port was removed in a quick and painless day surgery. Laura can’t imagine how they could have gotten through this without the Alberta Children’s Hospital and their incredible team. Knowing that specialists were here for her daughter made the unimaginable somehow bearable.
They will be cheering on Team Hope and Team Cure when they take to the ice March 31-April 11 in support of pediatric cancer research.
“It’s so cool they’re doing this to help kids like me!” Rosalie says, a sentiment echoed by mom.
“Through my social network, I am introduced to moms whose children have just been diagnosed with cancer,” says Laura. “My heart breaks for them knowing the daunting treatment protocol they have ahead of them. I can only hope that research can help to continuously improve the treatments and the outcomes for these families so that they don’t go through what we had to.”
Your support of Hockey Marathon for the Kids will enable a dedicated team of clinicians and researchers at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and University of Calgary to accelerate the development of more novel cellular immunotherapies to fight more types of cancer. Read more about Hockey Marathon for the Kids here.