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Now seven, Quinn Ridley is a cancer survivor

Posted on 15/09/2011 12:00am

Burnaby NewsLeader
Published: September 15, 2011

For Kim Walters' family, their nightmare started four years ago while Christmas shopping.
While traipsing through the mall, her three-year-old daughter Quinn Ridley complained that her legs hurt and that she was tired.
Nothing particularly unusual for a child that age, but in coming weeks Quinn would wake up in the middle of the night from the pain and sometimes her legs would hurt so much she couldn't walk.
Walters took her to a doctor twice and both times was told Quinn was simply suffering from "growing pains."
Then in January 2008, two months after the first signs of the symptoms, Walters picked up her daughter at preschool and was told Quinn had been napping instead of participating with the other kids, she was just too tired.
That's when Walters took Quinn straight to B.C. Children's Hospital where they ran a battery of tests, from bloodwork to x-rays, over three to four hours.
By the time they got back to their North Burnaby home, a doctor was phoning them with a diagnosis.
Walters already had her suspicions from researching the symptoms on the Internet.
"He said she had abnormal bloodwork. I actually said, ‚¬Ã…¡¬ÃƒÆ’‚¬¹Ãƒ€¦‚¬Å“Is it leukemia?' He said, ‚¬Ã…¡¬ÃƒÆ’‚¬¹Ãƒ€¦‚¬Å“Yes.'"
Quinn, now seven and in remission, will be among the multitudes of cancer survivors who will do their part to support the annual Terry Fox Run, which takes place Sunday, Sept. 18 in Burnaby at Swangard Stadium.
‚¬Ã…¡¬ÃƒÆ’‚¬¹Ãƒ€¦‚¬Å“I had to stay strong'
That evening after receiving the diagnosis, Walters packed their bags. Quinn headed back to Children's Hospital and within two days had started chemotherapy.
"It was absolutely devastating, but I knew I had to stay strong for her," said Walters, 41.
The good news-if there can be such a thing with a cancer diagnosis-is that she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), one of the most common forms of the disease in children which comes with a relatively high cure rate.
"It's the best one to get if you're going to get it."
Within a month, the levels of leukemia in her bone marrow had gone from 98 per cent down to five per cent.
Quinn was out of preschool for the rest of that school year while the entire treatment took about two years. "A month didn't go by without us getting some kind of treatment," Walters recalled.
All the while Quinn took it like a trooper. Walters was up front with her daughter, telling her that she was really sick and that she would have to take some really strong medicines to get better.
"She took it OK. She didn't know any better."
Throughout the ordeal, Walters was also looking after their baby boy, Freeman, who was just three months old when his older sister was diagnosed.
Her husband took the night shifts at the hospital after work while Walters went home to care for their son. They got through it all with the help of friends, family and the "amazing" medical staff at the hospital.
"I was just running on adrenaline," she said.
‚¬Ã…¡¬ÃƒÆ’‚¬¹Ãƒ€¦‚¬Å“Cancer is everywhere'
Today, Quinn is in Grade 2 at Parkcrest elementary and continues to go in for checkups every three months.
Walters said her daughter is very aware of what happened. "I think she's more mature than a lot of kids her age."
And she understands the gravity of the situation.
"Just a week ago she asked me if I thought she was going to die when she had cancer. I said, ‚¬Ã…¡¬ÃƒÆ’‚¬¹Ãƒ€¦‚¬Å“yeah.' She gets it."
The family's experience has made them all much more aware of how common the disease is, she said, noting they've got friends and family also touched by cancer.
"You just never know. Cancer's everywhere. Every time we turn our back somebody else has cancer."
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