Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (JHCC) is one of three hospitals in Ontario providing all forms of adult stem cell transplants. For some patients, a stem cell transplant can mean the difference between life and death—patients like Maddie from Burlington, who was diagnosed with leukemia one month shy of her 20th birthday.
Before her diagnosis, Maddie had been feeling exhausted. One time she took a nap and woke up 18 hours later. She had assumed her fatigue was from writing three university exams in 24 hours, but then her mom expressed concern about how pale she looked.
Maddie went for blood tests before being sent to JHCC for further testing.
“It was a good day when I put on a mask and gloves and walked around the hospital.”
“When you hear someone give you that diagnosis, you kind of drop to your knees,” Maddie says, now three years later. “You just scream, you cry and you hold the ones that you love and that is exactly what happened that day.”
Maddie started what was supposed to be a two-year course of chemotherapy and radiation. After one month, it was obvious that the chemo was not as effective as her hematologist had hoped. To survive, she needed a stem cell transplant, which replaces unhealthy blood-forming cells with donated healthy cells.
After the transplant, Maddie could not leave her hospital room for 33 days. “It was a good day when I put on a mask and gloves and walked around the hospital,” she says.
Today, Maddie gets joint pain and has some difficulties with memory, both possible side effects of a transplant. “Other than that, I am perfectly fine,” she says. “I am living a normal life and looking forward to tomorrow, which is incredible because I never thought I would be able to do that.
“I never thought I would be able to do that.”
“I couldn’t have asked for a better team supporting me through that journey. The doctors and nurses would take time to talk to me and my family every day. They have the best people working at this hospital. It makes the experience better. You don’t feel like you are alone.”
With your support, the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation can create a dedicated and specialized clinical space for stem cell treatment at JHCC. With this expansion and the purchase of essential equipment, we can provide this potentially live-saving treatment to 50 per cent more cancer patients like Maddie. Click here to learn more or to donate to the Tomorrow Stems From You campaign.