When Sophie was born, Maura and her husband Alan were delighted to become first-time parents. Sophie was a happy baby who loved exploring the world around her.
At just over 13 months, Sophie suddenly began eating less and seemed more tired than usual. When she stopped walking, Maura and Alan became more concerned and decided to take her to the emergency department at BC Children’s Hospital. Scans and imaging prompted additional blood tests that confirmed a devastating diagnosis—Sophie had acute myeloid leukemia, a rare form of childhood blood cancer.
“They told us that she needed to start treatment immediately and that we would essentially not be leaving the hospital for a very long time. It was the worst moment you could ever imagine. I still can’t believe that it happened.” — Maura, Sophie’s mom
BC Children’s quickly became home for Sophie and her family while she received treatment that consisted of four rounds of chemotherapy.
At such a young age, Maura and Alan recognized the importance of ensuring Sophie lived a normal life, even while in hospital. They were grateful for the special touches they encountered at BC Children’s, such as playrooms and child life specialists who helped make the hospital experience brighter.
“There were so many amazing playrooms, murals and places for Sophie to explore,” Maura said. “And the child life team always made sure she had toys to keep her engaged and supported her brain development.”
When Sophie finished her chemotherapy, her family was thrilled to learn that she could finally return home after five months in the hospital.
Today Sophie is thriving and in remission. She continues to be monitored by her oncology team very closely, which includes regular blood tests and additional follow-ups if she gets sick.
“We are so thankful that Sophie has done so well, but being at home is also hard,” Maura said. “When you walk out of the hospital, you think you should be done with your child’s treatment—but you start another part of your cancer journey that’s filled with check-ups and the fear that comes with every test result.”
Bringing hope to the 20%
Over the past several decades, survival rates for childhood cancers have risen dramatically. Today, 80 per cent of children who are diagnosed with cancer will live long, full lives. While remarkable, it’s still not enough—because it means that one in five kids won’t survive.
We know we can’t challenge this status quo without drastic changes. That’s why we’re embarking on new paths that extend beyond the traditional way of treating cancer.
We’re investing in work that’s aimed at finding novel ways to defeat the hardest-to-treat cancers, like by reprograming the body’s own immune system to fight the disease. We’re focused on helping experts propel groundbreaking research that will allow them to anticipate cancer relapses before they occur. And we’re making sure that survival doesn’t come at the cost of life-long side effects.
But we can’t do this alone. Join us.