mom and Mia

Caring for Parents: The Amato Family

Mia was diagnosed with medulloblastoma on July 26, 2015 at the age of 13 months. Up until that point, she was a very healthy little girl.  I fed her healthy foods, probiotics, no sugar, not so much as a cookie!  I did everything I could to make her first year as healthy as possible. As you can imagine, we were devastated upon learning her diagnosis. Our entire world changed in an instant. She was admitted at the Hospital for Sick Children and within 20 minutes of being in the emergency room, they knew how sick she was and how little time she had to get treatment. They had to drill a hole in her head to drain out the excess spinal fluid that was accumulating in her brain because of papilledema (swelling of the brain). It was indescribable, watching your baby suffering in pain, with a tube sticking out of her head. She underwent a craniotomy, brain surgery, to remove her tumor the next morning.  Doctors were able to successfully remove the tumor and she continued to recuperate very well over the next couple of weeks. She then started 7 months of chemotherapy treatment to ensure that the tumour cells were destroyed. It has been an emotionally aMia Pic
nd physically challenging journey these past months for both Mia and us, her parents.

Thankfully we had an incredible support team, family, and friends. Some friends did disappear, not everyone can deal with this sort of crisis. That’s why we were even more thankful for the team at SickKids, and Ontario Parents Advocating for Children with Cancer (OPACC). OPACC was there for us every Monday morning and Tuesday evening at Sick Kids. They helped me talk about Mia’s condition and listened with empathy and such wonderful support- John & Sue are the best! God bless them for their selfless work. They gave me such great advice and helped me sign up for events for Mia. The coffee and treats they provided were so thoughtful and very much needed.  It’s difficult to stay strong all the time, especially when your child is suffering from a critical illness, but OPACC helped me deal with my daily and weekly struggles, and I would always leave them feeling a little bit better.  OPACC helped us create a blog to record Mia’s and our experiences to share with family and friends- it has been such great therapy for us, and for me especially.

It was so important to me that they knew what we were going through with Mia. Both John and Sue have lived through this. It was comforting to know that we were not alone in this journey. Yes, you have family and friends to help you, but no one really can understand your emotions and your struggles unless you have experienced them yourself. I got my strength from them. If they were able to continue on and get through their children’s illnesses, then we could too. And, we have been able to get through this.

Even though Mia has completed treatment and is now cancer-free, it doesn’t mean it is over. It will never be over. Our lives will never be the same. There will always be the constant fear of it returning, side effects of chemotherapy, and post traumatic stress that we are all experiencing. For now, we live and cherish each day we have with her. We thank the Lord every day for giving us more time with her and we continue to hope for a long and wonderful life for our little girl.

Amy, Carmine, and Mia Amato

 

Erik portrait

Erik’s Fight

 

We all have our reasons for supporting Kids Cancer Care.  Mine is my son, Erik. By the grace of God, he is with us today. He is among the lucky ones, who can say that they beat cancer. In his case, not only did he beat cancer; he beat cancer twice!

 

When Erik was only two years old, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. That was just over seven years ago. Like all families of children diagnosed with cancer, we were devastated.

 

On March 21, 2010, I brought Erik to the emergency department, at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, because his leg was hurting. He had also been developing some unusual small bumps on his chest and neck that were turning purple. I remember paying for only one-hour of parking, thinking we’d be in and out in no time. The doctor ran some blood tests and the results were shocking. Carol & her boysThe reason his leg was hurting was because his bones were expanding from the internal pressure caused by the rapid growth of leukemic cells in his bone marrow.

 

Erik was immediately admitted into the oncology unit and a team of doctors quickly produced a custom-tailored treatment protocol of intense chemotherapy. That anticipated one-hour visit to the hospital turned into six months.

 

The Alberta Children’s Hospital, a place we had never even been to before, became our second home. My wife, Carol, moved in to the hospital with Erik to help provide around-the-clock care.  Our family was instantly torn apart. I visited them every day after work and then returned home to care for our other two boys. Back then, our oldest boy, Alex, was four years old and our youngest boy, Sammy, was only a baby. Occasionally, they could visit Erik. However, because of his compromised immune system, this wasn’t often. Special precautions were often required of anyone entering Erik’s room. This involved removing outside footwear and clothing and using sanitizer. Visitors often had to wear a hospital gown, gloves, a hair net and a mask to prevent what could be a deadly infection, because his immune system was so compromised by the chemotherapy.

 

On September 17, 2010, after six grueling months, we were finally discharged, with the great pronouncement that Erik was in remission — meaning that they could not detect any leukemic cells through blood tests. We continued with frequent follow-up visits to the hospital and numerous additional blood tests over the next year.

 

On the one-year anniversary of his discharge, we hosted a large celebration, with over 100 people.  Erik had beaten cancer and we celebrated loud and proud.  AML is an aggressive cancer with only a 50 per cent chance of survival.  We felt incredibly fortunate and wanted to share that blessing with the entire world.

 

After a continued period of compromised immunity and ongoing precautions, our lives slowly returned to normal. Erik started pre-school sometime in January 2011 and returned, with some limitations, to certain extra-curricular activities.

 

After two wonderful years in remission, our worst fear came true. On December 1, 2012, very early in the morning, Erik climbed into our bed, complaining that he wasn’t feeling well. After a short time, we noticed that he was rapidly losing control over his balance and neurological functions. He lost his ability to speak and then could not stand. The entire left side of his body was effectively paralyzed.Erik the fighter

 

I rushed Erik back to the hospital. They ran more tests and confirmed that the same cancer was back. CT scan images revealed that leukemic cells had completely infiltrated his brain. This could not be detected through his regular blood tests. A spinal tap and bone marrow aspirate further revealed that the cancer had spread throughout his bone marrow and central nervous system.

 

At this point, the prognosis was grim. I had always believed that if Erik’s cancer returned, he would not survive. I thought for sure this time we would lose our son. The oncologists, on the other hand, maintained a positive level of guarded optimism. Erik was immediately re-admitted and placed on an even more intensive regime of chemotherapy.

 

The only hope of surviving this relapse was through a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, no one in his family was a match for Erik, so they had to search the international stem cell database. Luckily, three perfect matches were found and the process of further testing and screening these anonymous persons began.

 

After several months of living at the hospital and going through the horrors of treatment all over again, it was time to prepare Erik for the transplant. This involved completely eradicating every living cell in his bone marrow. First, Erik was subjected to radiation every day for a period of three weeks, starting with a period of direct radiation to his brain, followed by a period of radiation to his entire spinal cord and brain, and finally, by a period of full-body radiation.

 

After this intense radiation, they administered an additional super toxic dose of an ultra potent chemo drug, in order to ensure complete annihilation of the cancer cells. This was also administered directly into his spine. They said that Erik’s body had to be destroyed before they could rebuild him. They literally took him to the brink of death. I didn’t know which was worse, the disease or the treatment. He required frequent blood transfusions, he was taking countless medications to combat the plethora of side-effects, his skin was burned and peeling from radiation, all his hair fell out again, and he lost so much weight, you could see his bones.

 

On April 19, 2013, we were discharged again. This time, Erik’s recovery was very slow. For more than one year, he had very little energy and could not keep up with his brothers and friends. His weight also remained the same over the next 15 months. Eventually, his energy returned in leaps and bounds and, today, Erik is an active nine-year-old, engaged in many sports and extra-curricular activities.

 

Erik has come through the worst of it, but like so many childhood cancer survivors, his battles are really only beginning. The cancer treatments that saved his life, left him with learning problems. When Erik was spending precious time at the hospital, he should have been at school learning to read and write,

 

As a result, Erik fell behind in school, which started to affect his confidence and interest in learning. But last fall, Erik started participating in weekly tutor sessions with a tutor through Kids Cancer Care’s new Education Support Program.

 

With the dedicated support of his tutor and his mom, Erik is starting to make gains. He’s learned to do double-digit subtractions in math and his reading comprehension is improving. He’s also less anxious about learning, which is key, because he’s more willing to give things a try now. He knows he can get there, if he works hard and focuses.

 

Despite having missed two years of school, Erik completed grade three this year (2016) and he’s looking forward to starting grade four in the fall.

 

Carol & ErikWe thank God every day for saving our little boy. We never take one single day for granted. We understand just how quickly and unexpectedly everything can change. The night before his relapse, Erik was training for a karate tournament. We were sparring in the living room and he was strong and fierce. Within only a few hours, he had to be carried to the hospital, in a paralyzed state, suffering massive seizures. He had been functioning perfectly, with brain cancer, and no one had a clue.

 

While we rejoice privately in his survival and hug and kiss and tell each other, countless times a day, how much we love each other, we are reticent to host any type of public celebration. But last July, we did host a celebration after finding Erik’s stem cell donor, a young man named Brent Lewelling from Beaumont, Texas. We flew Brent and his family to Calgary for a reunion and had a great time getting to know this hero who save our son’s life. We celebrated that day in honor of Brent and his generous decision to endure surgery to donate his stem cells and save a boy’s life.

 

But for the most part, we live with this uncomfortable balance between joyful appreciation and fearful insecurity. We can never again be certain of what is happening inside Erik’s little body or of how much longer we will have together. But, then again, none of us do. That is one of the profound mysteries of life.

 

So, I say CARPE DIUM!

 

Live every day like it’s your last!

 

Paul Gracia, Erik’s father

Quinton - Exersaucer

Quinton’s First Year

Quinton - ExersaucerQuinton was born on August 19th, 2015, a healthy 8 lbs 1 ounce, with lovely soft brown hair and beautiful blue eyes.

Shortly before his first Christmas, we went to my parents’ house to enjoy a family gathering. The day was wonderful, filled with laughter, delicious food, and even an early visit from Santa.

When Quinton awoke from his nap that afternoon, he seemed irritable and hot to the touch. That night, he continued to be restless so, the following morning, I took him to our local hospital, where the doctor found he had an ear infection.

Unfortunately, Quinton did not respond well to the new medication. Each hour, his condition seemed to worsen. Back at the hospital, he was taken for x-rays which revealed pneumonia. The doctors in our small town decided his care was beyond what they could provide and we were sent by ambulance to Children’s Hospital in London, Ontario.

There, the ER doctors and nurses were concerned that Quinton had become severely dehydrated. A central line would be needed.

It would be impossible to put into words the horror of the following hours. It is extremely challenging to get a needle into the vein of a baby and, in a severely dehydrated infant, near impossible. After several hours and countless attempts, one of the doctors was able to secure access. My husband and I assumed a day or so in hospital and then we’d be sent home. We were sadly mistaken.

I have read articles and talked to a few unfortunate parents about what it felt like when they heard the diagnosis. Shock, disbelief, anger, despair. I will never forget the moment when the doctor explained what Quinton’s blood culture had revealed. It was three days before Christmas and my husband and I were seated in a private cubicle with an attending physician. He told us in the most direct and compassionate way possible that our beloved four-month old son had a cancer known as Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or A.L.L.  He would need a lumbar puncture, a bone marrow test and a Broviac inserted into his chest in order to receive chemotherapy.

At first, my husband and I wondered if it was right to inflict such pain on our sweet little baby. After a great deal of tears, my husband finally concluded, “I don’t think I’m ready to say goodbye to him yet.” And with that, we agreed to let the doctors do all that was possible to save our son.

Quinton was diagnosed with high risk A.L.L. Because of his very young age and the gene rearrangement of the disease, his form of leukemia would be particularly difficult to treat. It was unknown at that point how he would respond. The doctors did know that he would not leave the hospital for at least four to six months, possibly longer. Treatment would last into his third year. We were told to be prepared for immediate and future side effects from the medications he would be receiving.

One of the initial visits we received during our first day was from the Family Support worker from Childcan. She gave us information for important resources, meal vouchers and a parking pass, and reassured us that we were not alone.

The day before Christmas, Quinton was taken for surgery for the placement of his Broviac central line and his bone marrow biopsy. During that time, he received his initial dose of chemotherapy.

And so began our journey.

After seven months of treatment, they tell us that Quinton’s prognosis is good. We have also been told that a similar diagnosis ten years ago would not have been as favourable. Research on the treatment of childhood cancer is essential to help the thousands of children who are diagnosed with this life-threatening disease.

We have endured many difficult days, yet we have never felt alone. The supports from the hospital and community have allowed us keep our focus on our son.

Thanks to so many amazing professionals, support systems and medical innovations, my family has hope. As Quinton begins his second year of life, I am allowing myself to look into his future. It is filled with many more birthday cakes, candles and wishes to be made. And each year, when he blows out his candles, I will make my own single wish that we will one day find a cure to end all childhood cancers.

Darah

On June 17th, 2011, at only 12 years old, Darah was running the 100 m sprint Manitoba Provincial Track and Field Qualifiers when she crossed the finish line in a close second place. All of a sudden, from the sidelines, we could hear a “snap” and she tumbled to the concrete track. Judging by the placement of her leg on the track, Darah’s femur was clearly broken. Hundreds of spectators were in disbelief. It all happened so fast and something just didn’t seem right. Why would an otherwise perfectly healthy, competitive athlete, suddenly break her femur in mid-stride? Soon, emergency crews were on scene to stabilize her and rush her to the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital. This was the beginning of what would be the longest, toughest fight for Darah. An elite athlete she was – playing AAA Female Hockey for the Manitoba Maple Leafs, Club volleyball for the Selkirk Royals, soccer and track. Her passion of playing competitive sports came to an abrupt halt.

On September 9th, 2011, after nearly three months, Darah was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of Ewings Sarcoma, which often first rears its ugly head with a pathological fracture, such as in her case. She had been playing in the AAA Stars and Stripes Hockey Tournament in Minneapolis only a few weeks before and showed no sign of pain or weakness. As a matter of fact, she received an award for Player of the Game.

Read the rest of Darah’s story here: http://ewingscancer.ca/story/528/

 

Wisdom in the Broken

Hi, I’m Jordana.

I live in Central Alberta with my husband and daughter.  We do our best to live life fully after a devistating loss of our three year old daughter. In the past months, I have been writing about our journey with our daughter Sarah who lived with cancer and died in 2014. Visit our blog at www.wisdominthebroken.wordpress.com. I wish for it to remain a positive space to share my life.

 

Emily’s story

Our five-year-old daughter Emily will take her last dose of chemotherapy on September 3, after more than two years of treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. As we celebrate this milestone for her during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we will be thinking of all the children who are still walking a hard road with this illness.

Sharing Emily’s story in a blog has given me strength and comfort, and I hope it might offer the same to other cancer parents. Visit our blog here www.emilyspath.wordpress.com.

Megan

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David and Goliath

YourStores-DavidScottThank you for sharing in my story today. It is so important to support kids with cancer through organizations like Kids Cancer Care. I want to share with you my story so you can see how much your support can make a difference.

I was three and a half when I was diagnosed with cancer, so I don’t really remember this time at all. On one hand, this is a good thing, and on the other hand, I wish I knew more. Everything I know about that time is from my family.

My journey with cancer began long before I was diagnosed. I had a lump on my lower right side and my mother kept bringing me to see the doctor. They kept brushing us off. I was about two years old and in a lot of pain. Apparently, I would scream all night long. When I used to lie down, the tumour would press against my organs and cause extreme pain. I was losing a lot of weight and was completely listless. My mother knew there was something seriously wrong, but she couldn’t convince the doctors to investigate. They just kept saying I was constipated. When I started urinating blood, they finally took things seriously and began running tests.

In January 2001, I was diagnosed with Wilms tumour, which is a type of kidney cancer. I had it in my right kidney. Because of the sheer size of it, they thought I would not survive. Apparently, I had the cancer cells from the time I was born. The tumour destroyed my right kidney and part of my inferior vena cava. For those of you who don’t know, the inferior vena cava is a large vein that carries de-oxygenated blood from the lower part of your body to your heart. Because it was so big, the doctors assumed the tumour was attached to the surrounding organs, so the first thing they tried to do was shrink it with chemo, but that seemed to do nothing. So, at this point, it was considered inoperable.

Because of this, it took a bit to find a surgeon who would actually do the surgery. Once we finally found that surgeon and he began operating, what transpired seemed to be a miracle. After making the incisions to remove my kidney, the tumour literally popped out of my stomach. It turned out the chemo had worked. It had encapsulated my tumour, so it couldn’t spread anywhere else. It wasn’t attached to any other organs after all. For the first time, things were looking up. I completed 24 more weeks of chemo and five treatments of radiation. On August 24, I was done treatment and ok’d to go on my wish trip to Disneyland.

My cancer affected my whole family in both good and bad ways. We have seen the worst of cancer and what it can do to people. We’ve known many families who have lost a loved one to cancer. My girlfriend Teagan lost her younger sister Julia to cancer almost three years ago. But this has given us a common bond.

I’ve also experienced the long-term fallout of cancer firsthand. Most cancer survivors—about 70%—have lasting effects from their cancer treatments. I am one of the 70%. I have many permanent health problems (which sucks) but at least I’m alive and happy.

Even though I had cancer when I was only three, the treatments affected my ability to learn and I fell behind in school. It also affected my reading and social skills. I have so many complicated medical conditions and I have to manage them every day.

For instance, the cancer treatments affected my neuropathway development, so I have trouble with my working memory. This is different from short-term memory in that it involves our ability to store information as well as our ability to organize and manipulate the information. It’s important for learning, attention and even speech.

The result of this is my brain works super quickly, which causes thought blocking. This is where all my thoughts and words rush together all at once, so quickly, that they get jammed up and I can’t get anything out. It’s frustrating and embarrassing and I take meds to slow it down. I’ve also developed mental tools and use mindfulness exercises to help me stop things when they get going too fast.

I will also be on blood thinners the rest of my life . . . because of severe blood clotting in my left leg and abdomen. It’s scary but it’s just a part of life now.

Another serious fallout of my cancer treatment is depression. This is a common long-term side effect for survivors. I’ve personally had 2 major episodes of depression, which demanded a lot of commitment and support to get through.

But it hasn’t been all bad. We’ve also seen a lot of good come of cancer. . .

I’ve learned that cancer affects a lot of people, so I am definitely not alone. It is rare to talk to someone who has not been affected by cancer, whether it is themselves, a family member or a friend. I’ve also seen a lot of people survive this disease. I’ve been cancer-free myself for 14 years now. I am a survivor and part of a community of hope.

Luckily for me, I have the strongest and most caring family in the world, which is one of the reasons I got through my cancer. My mother told me I was never scared with my cancer; I was always positive and I never thought I was going to die. I think the reason I was like that was because of the way my family was handling it. I took that energy off of them. My family is so strong and solid. My heroes are my sister, my brother, my mother, my father and my grandmother. We have the confidence to handle anything.

We have also made lifelong friends through my cancer journey. One of the best things to come from being sick was meeting so many people, whether it was in the hospital or at Camp Kindle, an incredible camp that is owned and operated by Kids Cancer Care. The one place that helped me get through every challenge was camp. I have always loved camp and I have been going to camp since I was first diagnosed. There were times when the only place I felt I belonged was at camp. When I went through my depression, camp was the only place in the world I wanted to be. It was the only place I felt I could be accepted.

My favorite part of camp is hanging with all of my friends and the wilderness. Being outdoors in nature is always my favourite place to be.

If it wasn’t for camp, I probably wouldn’t have explored other opportunities through Kids Cancer Care. The most recent thing for me was the Teen Leadership Program. It has definitely brought me out of my shell. Everyone there relates because of our cancer experiences, so it’s easier to share. At a fundraiser for our El Salvador home-building trip, I actually shared my cancer story publically for the first time. And then, in El Salvador, I shared my story with the group—something I had never done before. And, here I am today, sharing it again. You’d never know that a few years ago my teacher’s biggest concern was that I didn’t say a word to him the entire year.

This was a sad year for me at camp though. This was the last year I could go to Camp Kindle as a camper because I turned 18 this summer. It’s hard to say goodbye but I’m hoping my goodbye is only temporary.  I have experienced so many amazing things and met so many incredible people at camp. I will carry these memories forever.

As I look to my future, I am prepared to enter the medical field. I am thinking of becoming a nurse, a paramedic . . . or maybe even a doctor. Hopefully, I can volunteer for Camp Kindle when I am finished school and help kids just like me.

Thank you for making a lifetime of memories possible for me. Camp helped build me up and gave me a safe place I could go each summer. Every year, hundreds of kids go to cancer camp thanks to fundraising events like this. I hope you know now, why it is so important to support caring organizations like Kids Cancer Care! They have made a huge difference in my life and in the lives of many kids just like me.

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Building a brighter future

“I worked by lamplight at night in our room at Ronald McDonald House, so Angelo could sleep, while I studied. It was tough, seeing him go through that, while also focusing on school, but we did it,” says Chelsie Shade.

She may be only 19, but Chelsie Shade already exhibits a maturity and tenacity far beyond her years. She’s been through cancer twice — her own and now her son’s — and, with your help, she’s moving beyond her cancer experiences and following her dream of becoming a pediatric nurse.

When Chelsie was 17 months old, she was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare but highly aggressive and hereditary eye cancer. Within hours of diagnosis, she and her parents were transferred to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, where Chelsie received emergency surgery to remove the left eye and save her life.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

For years, Chelsie and her parents travelled to and from Toronto every few weeks, so she could access the specialized treatments and technology necessary to treat and monitor her good eye. The emotional and financial toll on the family was enormous.

When Chelsie was finally deemed cancer-free, she learned that she would have to continue making that same trip every few weeks for years to come. This time, Chelsie was the mother and her nine-day-old baby boy was in need of the specialized treatment and follow up available in Toronto.

Growing up partially blind and with a prosthetic eye, Chelsie was determined to spare her son this fate. She fought hard with the doctors to save Angelo’s eye. But the threat of losing Angelo or his eyes is never far away.

Despite travelling to Toronto every few weeks for Angelo’s treatments and monitoring, the single mother from the Bloodtribe of Southern Alberta, managed to stay in school and graduate from high school.

“We’ve survived two years of stress and hardship with my Angelo’s cancer,” says Chelsie. “I took a year off school in 2011 to be in Toronto for his cancer treatments, but I enrolled in online schooling and managed to finish three courses that year.”

Chelsie is now attending the University of Lethbridge, where she is working toward a degree in nursing with the help of a $2,500 bursary from the Kids Cancer Care Derek Wandzura Memorial Scholarship program—thanks to the generous community of Alberta.

“I’m planning to pursue a career in pediatric nursing, possibly in oncology, as I have survived my own cancer and now my son’s. I want to help children like Angelo.”

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Understanding bone cancer metastases

Whether or not bone cancer spreads to the lungs could mean life or death for a child. And yet, we still don’t know why and how some bone cancers spread. But with your support, Dr. Michael Monument is exploring these vital questions.

As an orthopaedic cancer surgeon and EXpAT researcher, specializing in the diagnosis and management of malignant pediatric bone cancer, Dr. Monument is extremely interested in how bone cancers metastasize (spread) to the lung.

Using high-end genetic sequencing and imaging technology, Dr. Monument’s research group is studying different human bone cancer models to understand and characterize the common genetic and molecular factors responsible for lung metastases. He and his research team are employing a unique strategy to simultaneously assess the molecular changes that take place in tumour cells and in host lung tissue during the evolution of lung metastases.

Identifying these crucial pro-metastatic pathways is vital to recognizing high-risk patients earlier, while also paving the way for new, targeted therapies. Given the poor survival rate for sarcoma patients who develop lung metastases, new strategies to prevent and impede lung metastases are essential to save young lives.

Dr. Monument is an orthopaedic oncology surgeon in the Department of Surgery at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. You can learn more about the Kids Cancer Care-funded research initiatives of the Experimental and Applied Therapeutics program here.

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Breaking Bread

YourStories-BreadAfter fasting for over 15 hours, little Liam woke up ravenous after surgery. Chowing down before Mom could even slice him a piece of banana bread he scarfed the loaf down nearly whole.

The containers of nutritious home-cooked meals could not have arrived sooner for Liam and his family.

Sarah Bachelder had just given birth to her second son Isaiah, when her two-year-old son Liam started presenting with a fever that wouldn’t quit. Two weeks after his baby brother was born, Liam was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

And, if that wasn’t enough, Mom went in for surgery two months later. “It was only day surgery,” says Sarah, “but I couldn’t pick up the kids at all for a week, so Jonathan had to go to the hospital on his own.”

Working fulltime and going to school fulltime, Jonathan managed to spend nights at the hospital with Liam, while Mom tried to hold things together at home with the newborn.

“It was really a crazy year,” recalls Sarah. “Having all that food in the freezer helped take off some of the pressure. We’re pretty independent, but we knew we couldn’t do this on our own, so we took all the help we could get. We are so grateful for all the support.”

Thanks to volunteer cooks in Kids Cancer Care’s Cooking and Caring program, the Bachelders received all their favourites—Mexican, Indian, Thai and Vietnamese dishes, along with lots of healthy snack foods. They also received freshly baked goods from COBS Bread on 130th Avenue and gift certificates to Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria in Country Hills—two Calgary companies that actively participate in our Cooking and Caring program.

Kids Cancer Care is grateful for the volunteer cooks and generous community partners that break bread with our families. When we cook, we don’t simply toss in ingredients; we stir and savour, season and sauté, simmer and sample with care and attention. As Cesar Chavez, the Latino American civil rights activist, said, “The people who give you their food, give you their heart.”