Why I Freakin’ Love RMH (A True Story about my life and my Toronto Trip)

am wearing her mask outside RMH

Get set. I have a lot to tell (and show!!!) you today.  A ton of pictures, for sure, including a Slideshare slideshow I created of all of the pics I took during my recent trip to Toronto, plus a bit about my mom, a bit about my sister, a lot about my niece, and a lot about my experiences at RMH. Mostly, they are all intertwined!

My Life the Last Few Months

Today I am going to reveal what’s been going on in my personal life the last few months, including why I have been a bit “absent” from my blog and my online activities (such as commenting). These events are also the reason why so many guest posts have been published on Wording Well lately… and why more are yet to come!

First of all, my mom had major surgery. More about that in a minute… including some pics that might gross you out. (Sorry!)

Secondly, I took a trip. But I didn’t go on vacation. Instead, I went to Toronto, to SickKids Hospital. While in Toronto, I stayed at a place called RMH, which is actually supposed to be called Ronald McDonald House Charities Toronto, as that is their proper name, but which I will simply call RMH, as it’s much easier!

(By the way, I freakin’ love RMH! Later on, I’ll tell you why!) Read More

Baby Sammi, Now 3, Needs to Have Her Bad Eye Removed

Samantha_at_SickKids_Hospital

Samantha MacLaurin (AKA Sam or Sammi), aged 3, was born with cancer in her eyes. This rare form of cancer, called retinoblastoma, is hereditary. Her father has it, and has had one of his eyes removed, too.

Sammi is my niece and I’ve blogged about her before.

She was the youngest participant in the 2013 Relay for Life walk, and had the honour of kicking off this relay with her big brother, Alistair, her father, Charlie, her mother, Janice, and the wife of the the Thunder Bay mayor. She was the youngest participant, and is the youngest cancer survivor (to date) in Thunder Bay! She remained the youngest participant in the 2014 Relay, too.

Sam waving

Not at the relay, but cute pic of Sam as a baby, when she first learned how to wave!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITBSMvjnJa4&w=560&h=315]

A Diagnosis = Bad News

Sammi is currently at the SickKids hospital in Toronto. She’s been there since last Tuesday, when she went for her regular check-up. She’s been cancer-free for the past year, so our family expected her to be okay this time, which is why we were so shocked when we learned that she has a mass (a tumour) growing behind her bad eye. (She has had cancer in both eyes, but one eye is better than the other. We refer to her right eye as her “bad” eye.)

We were devastated to learn that her bad eye has to be removed, too.

Sammi also needs 6 rounds of chemotherapy. The poor kid. Each round will occur three weeks after the previous one. Then they will be harvesting her bone marrow, too.

To prepare her for treatment, Sammi had to have another port put into her chest. She had one put in her when she was a baby, but had it removed in 2014. She had surgery for this the other day, and was not allowed to eat until after her operation. My sister said Sam kept saying “Hungry, hungry!” all day.

Below is a the picture my sister took when she was FINALLY able to eat.

Samantha_at_SickKids_Hospital_eating

Tests and Treatment

Sammi also needs to have another MRI (she had one on her head ONLY last week) and a bunch of other tests, because the doctors are still unsure of the exact location of the mass. The tumor might be in the eye socket or in the optic nerve. What they do know, however, is that it is NOT in her brain. Her next MRI will be a full body one, and is scheduled for this Friday.

The plan, according to her doctors, is to remove her eye after the second round of chemo.

Sammi also needs to remain in Toronto for three to six months, which presents complications because someone also needs to care for Ali, Sammi’s six-year-old brother, particularly when Charlie is at work.

So far, with the help of his paternal grandpa, his maternal grandma, and his auntie (me), Ali has been okay, but he’s missing his little sister and his mom.

Charlie also goes to Toronto once a month for appointments. He is leaving later today for his next one, meaning Ali and I will be staying at my parents’ place until Charlie returns.

Sam’s first round of chemo will be given later today, too.

Sam’s a Fighter

Sam is fighter, and I’m sure she’ll be fine, in time — well, as fine as she can be.

Hopefully the chemo won’t make her too sick, and hopefully there will be no infection when she has her eye removed.

Living in Toronto for 3-6 months

My sister and Sammi will have to remain in Toronto for several months while Sam is treated.

It’s still unsure when Ali will be joining them.

Fortunately, accommodations are being made for them to stay at the Ronald McDonald house. Apparently they will be permitted to stay there for up to a year. This option is much cheaper than staying at a hotel, or even renting an apartment.

Many of the costs are covered through government funding.

However, if you want to make a donation to their family, you can. You can use the button below, and donate through either a credit card or PayPal. I’ll make sure all monies go directly to my sister.

Janice did not want me to ask for any donations for her family. Instead, she’d prefer that any donations be made to cancer research, which can be done through Sammi’s Relay for Life cancer fundraiser page. (Click the Donate to Samantha link to be brought to the donation page.)

Sam’s team is called Agony of DeFeet. At the end of this post is a picture of their team banner.

Cancer Research Works

The Canadian Cancer Society has funded Dr. Chan’s (one Sam’s former doctor’s) retinoblastoma research. Dr. Chan has discovered that Cyclosporin-A, when given with Carboplatin Vincristine and Etoposide, decreases chemo resistance in RB1 tumours. Basically this means that Sammi’s tumour has a better chance of being killed.

Dr. Chan and Dr. Gallie are the top two RB specialists in the world. Dr. Chan retired in January 2015, so Dr. Gallie is Sammi’s main doctor now, and she is, in Janice’s words, “AMAZING.” She treated Charlie, too, and goes well beyond the call of duty for her patients.

Dr. Chan’s work proves that monies allocated for cancer research are well-spent.

You can see more pictures and videos by visiting Sam on Facebook via her mom’s page.

How You Can Help Sammi

Go_for_gold_Samantha

Donate directly to Sammi and her family by clicking the button below.

Donate to Sammi’s cancer fundraising page by clicking this link. (Click the Donate to Samantha link to be brought to the donation page.)


And please say a prayer for Sam.

Thank you.

Some Old Relay for Life Pics:

Sam finished her lap!

Sam finished her lap!

Sam's team banner

Sam’s team banner

Jan and Relay Captain Candace

(At another cancer fundraiser. Notice Candace’s sweatshirt! Janice is holding a picture of Michael Antcliffe, who died of Cancer after writing his book, Hope is My Wingman.)

Jan and Candace

Some Newer Pics, of Sam and Ali

Ali

 

Ali 1

Sam tower 2014

Sam dec 2014

Sam and Ali

Help Sammi

Go_for_gold_Samantha

Donate directly to Sammi and her family by clicking the button below.

Donate to Sammi’s cancer fundraising page by clicking this link. (Click the Donate to Samantha link to be brought to the donation page.)