“Mommy, Why are you Crying?”

A cheerful and energetic 4 year-old boy, Émile had not been himself in the last ten days. He was tired, even lethargic. At daycare, he didn’t even care to play with the other children. He had a dull complexion and a fever that came and went. His mother Diana was very concerned and took him to see a doctor. Nothing came up on examination, but blood tests were revealing. “When they put on the bandage to insert the needle, his arm became covered with petechiae. I thought they had somehow fumbled to find the vein!”

An hour later, the doctor recommended that Diana go to the hospital right away: the platelet level in Émile’s blood was abnormally low. After more blood tests, the diagnosis came down: acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“I remember being in a small room in the emergency department when the doctor came to tell us. Émile was in my arms. I was crying. The doctor closed the curtain and Émile held my face in his little hands. He said, “Mommy, why are you crying?” That made me cry even more. He was so cute; he had no idea what was coming.”

A Comforting Presence

Diana called her partner at work. He met them at the hospital where the family did not leave until two weeks later. “That diagnosis was like the end of the world as we know it. I remember everything exactly. You think it could be a lot of things, but not this. You don’t think about such a scenario,” says Diana.

Shortly after, Leucan accompanied the little family through Julie, a family counsellor. “It was really a reassuring presence at the hospital. We knew that someone was there for us, all the time. We saw her often, at the clinic too. She organized lunches and dinners. We could talk. The activities she organized made it easier to connect with other parents. It was really nice to have.”

The blanket that came in the welcome kit has become an object of great comfort for Émile. “He is a very sensory child, so the blanket is extremely important. It never leaves his side, even to this day!” His parents also appreciated the book on cancer. “It really gave us a glimpse of what to expect, because it was an entirely new world for us. Everything in the red bag has a purpose. And I remember the thermometer provided was our best friend!”

Émile struggled with the first treatments. At the clinic visits, he refused to talk or play. In the hospital, he would hide as soon as someone opened the door to his room. “The hardest part was the adaptation. Because Émile is very sensory, being poked and prodded felt very invasive to him.”

Massages: Apples on your Back

Leucan’s massage therapy sessions had a very calming effect on Émile. “He loved it so much! It was his moment, it completely shifted his mood, as if he was telling himself, “Alright this is my moment, I’m calm and I’m being pampered.” To this day, he still asks his grandmother to draw apples on his back, just like the massage therapist did.

Diana and her husband received financial support from Leucan. “The first few months were tough financially. My spouse did not work. I stopped working for a year. We received an amount every month. We also received a Christmas basket and back-to-school support. It helped a lot.”

Two years later, Émile is doing very well. He is in his fifth maintenance cycle. He has been able to enter school as planned. “He lives a normal life as a little boy, except for visits to the hospital, which he still finds to be often. But that’s part of his day-to-day life now.”

Diana and her partner are both breathing a sigh of relief. “We were lucky to have great support. To this day, I look back and I don’t know how we made it through.”

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