A Comforting Presence

When they found out that their son Alexander had a rare form of cancer, Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), Patricia and her husband were shocked and overwhelmed. They knew nothing about the disease, let alone the risks it posed to their son. “When you hear the words cancer, chemotherapy, tumor… you are always afraid. It’s the life of the entire family that is affected all of a sudden.”

Our Champion!

Alexander was diagnosed at age 4 in the fall of 2019. Surgery can sometimes help to get rid of this type of cancer, but the tumor was found at the base of his skull, and was therefore hard to reach and too close to the brain to operate on. Chemotherapy was the only option. “He was too small to understand what was happening to him, but for us it was a lot of worry. We kept telling ourselves that he was strong, that he was the one going through this ordeal. He was our champion!”

Struggling with the stress from the unknown and the uncertainty, the family found Leucan to be a comforting presence. “They know the reality of parents of children with cancer, it’s their specialty,” she says. “They help us and give us the tools we need to take care of our sick child. That’s the most important thing. They take care of us so that we can then take care of our child.”

A Small Community

Before the pandemic, Patricia found support from other Leucan parents who attended the hospital. “It was like a little community inside the hospital. When you’re going through a difficult time, you can’t compare yourself to other parents. But it helps to meet people who are going through the same thing and for whom life goes on. It gives you hope.”

Patricia appreciated the regular interaction with Marie-Josée, Leucan’s family counselor, first in person and then on the phone due to the lockdown. “She regularly asked me how I was doing, if I needed help. It was very reassuring.” The family is grateful for the financial assistance they received, especially to cover the cost of parking, and for the prepared meals they were offered to enjoy when they returned from long days of treatment.

Between Worry and Hope

Alexander is turning 6 soon. He has just finished kindergarten. He has been able to attend school without any issues as his chemotherapy treatments started while he was in daycare. For the past year, the sessions were farther apart and without too many side effects. “The tumour is still there, it is being monitored, but it is not active,” says Patricia. The parents are still worried, but they will have to slowly learn to live with it, seeing what kind of news every follow-up visit brings them.

Alexander is now in great shape. “He moves around too much, he’s boisterous in class. You can’t say he’s cured, but he doesn’t look sick at all! It’s really the best in all of this.”

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