Kristine Laplante could not believe it when her 6 month old daughter Evie was diagnosed with a brain tumour. “She had this crazy eye twitch that led us to our family doctor” says Kristine. “We learned that she had a cancerous brain tumour called a Hypothalamic Optic Glioma. Our lives were forever changed in that moment.” Evie is now 6 years old and has been on chemotherapy for most of her life. “There is currently no cure. Treatment is geared towards slowing the growth of the tumour until the research catches up.”
One of the greatest fears of a bereaved parent is that their passed child will be forgotten. With the holiday season upon us, this feeling is more acute as loved ones gather together.
In the early years of our bereavement, I wanted so badly to buy Shawn, our 3 year old who had passed away from a brain tumour, a gift. Something under the tree so he knew that we hadn’t forgotten about him and that he was still in our hearts and minds every day. Each and every time I stopped myself though. One night, close to Christmas Eve, I decided to write him a letter. I told him how much he was missed, how much we loved him and placed the note in his stocking, hung beside everyone else’s. This felt like the right way to include him in our holiday season and has been my tradition since his passing in 2007.
Jamielee and Evie enjoying time together at Camp Ooch.
by Sue McKechnie, CKN Editor
September not only marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month but the beginning of a new school year. For many parents this is a joyful time as kids get back to a regular routine and embark on a new year of learning, friendships and personal growth.
by: Dr. Christine Chambers, Child Psychologist & Professor, IWK Health Centre & Dalhousie University & Dr. Jennifer Stinson, Nurse Clinician-Scientist & Associate Professor, The Hospital for Sick Children & University of Toronto
“As parents we never want to see our children in pain. Whether it’s a scraped knee or a broken bone, we just wish we could take it all away and make them feel better. Now imagine having a child with cancer. When our son, Shawn, was first admitted to the hospital after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, they inserted an IV into his little arm. He screamed and I distressed at the cruelty of this intentional pain. Little did I realize that an IV insertion was the least of our worries as we journeyed down the road of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and the thousands of pokes and prods that Shawn endured. Pain management is at the epi-center of comfort. Providing comfort to Shawn was at the core of my job as his mother. When his pain was at the surface, it was all that mattered and it robbed him of every second. When his pain was managed well we were all able to concentrate on what truly mattered: love, laughter and living.” – Sue
by Sue McKechnie, CKN Childhood Cancer Co-editor, Bereaved Parent
It’s a decision that you never thought you would have to make. A decision that most people cannot imagine. The unfortunate reality of childhood cancer is that not all children will survive.
When we were told there was no treatment options left for Shawn and that the tumour in his brain would eventually take his life, we were faced with the decision of whether he would spend his last days in the hospital, in a hospice centre or at home.
by Sue McKechnie, Co-editor CKN Childhood Cancer Advocacy
This is a blog that I wish I didn’t have to write. Unfortunately it’s also the reality that too many parents face. When our son, Shawn, was dying I wish I was more informed about the details in those last few months and that is why I won’t shy away from them now. Emotions aside, here are some points to consider as your child’s life comes to an end.