It was a day like any other for Grace. As she was enjoying the last little bit of school before the summer, her teachers noticed an unusual looking bug bite on her arm. Thinking nothing of it, Grace and her mom, Laura, went to Surrey Memorial Hospital’s Pediatric Emergency Room. After what seemed like a never-ending amount of tests and exams, Grace and Laura were greeted by the Pediatric Oncologist, a doctor that specializes in children’s cancer. Laura immediately thought, “Oh no, this isn’t good.”
Only 13 years old, Grace was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia which was spreading at a rapid rate. After hearing this diagnosis, Laura was living through every parent’s worst nightmare. For her though, hearing this news was like getting a sense of déjà vu. Long ago, Laura had once fought the exact same battle that Grace was about to endure, having been diagnosed with Leukemia as well. Despite Laura coming out victorious in her fight against cancer, the mere thought of her daughter having to go through the same struggles left her feeling heartbroken. However, having her own personal experience fighting cancer meant that she could be there to help her daughter in every possible way.
But this diagnosis was only the beginning of the journey for both Grace and her mom. Grace was set to begin chemotherapy at the Children’s Health Centre in Surrey Memorial Hospital but as the treatments went along, Grace’s body took a hit. The treatment started affecting the nerves in her legs making movements as simple as walking very difficult. Because Grace was young and her body was still growing so quickly at this time, not being able to move around normally caused Grace’s growth to hinder. Her Achilles tendons began to shrink, forcing Grace to the point where she had to crawl just to get around. In the blink of an eye, Grace went from having a normal 13-year-old life, where she could walk to her classes and run with her friends, to a life bound by a wheelchair and spending countless hours in hospital rooms.
Despite many challenges during this journey, Laura and Grace faced everything with determination. Along the way, they received nothing but unwavering support and above-and-beyond care from the hospital staff.
What made a huge difference too, was the fact that Grace was able to receive all of her care close to home. When Laura was undergoing treatment, she remembers needing to travel from Surrey to Vancouver multiple times in order to get the care she needed for her fight against Leukemia. For her daughter Grace though, it was different. Because there was now a children’s cancer unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital, the added stress, discomfort and anxiety of going back and forth from city to city was not there. This was a huge relief for Laura, since her daughter could devote more energy where it was needed most—her recovery.
As Grace continued her chemotherapy treatments, she routinely met with a physiotherapist at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
Being a young teenager, Grace found it difficult to spend her time doing the physiotherapy needed for recovery. However, because of the creative and empathetic approach of Surrey Memorial Hospital staff, she pushed through with her treatment plan.
Today, Grace is able to walk, run and even jump again. No longer bound by cancer or a wheelchair, Grace can now focus on her future without any limitations.