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Alyssa’s Story

When Tania accompanied her mother at the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre at Southlake for treatment, she never imagined that she would be returning for her youngest child, Alyssa.

In 2021 at only three years old, Alyssa was tired, in pain and had blue lips. Knowing things weren’t right, Tania wanted Alyssa to get assessed at a hospital, but due to Covid-19 protocols only one parent was permitted to accompany her, so her husband Jonathan went. Tania vividly recalls the phone call from her husband saying, “It’s something serious, because they want me to call you before they even tell me.”

Tania’s worst fears came through the phone. The oncologist on-call suspected Alyssa had leukemia, which would be confirmed shortly after through tests. The next months were a whirlwind of travelling from Vaughan to downtown at SickKids for treatment. For a busy family, it meant juggling work schedules, and coordinating childcare for their other children.

“The first little while felt like living in the Twilight Zone,” said Tania.

As Alyssa reached the maintenance phase of her treatment, her care team made the recommendation to do it at the Pediatric Oncology Clinic at Southlake. That choice led to a huge shift in their journey.

“I regret not having gone sooner,” says Tania. “It brought so much less stress to Alyssa’s treatment and to our family as a whole.”

What used to take a full day going downtown Toronto for treatment was now reduced to just a couple of hours. If Alyssa needed bloodwork done, Tania felt more at ease leaving her older two children at home. They were able to get back more time to spend together as a family, and they didn’t have to compromise on Alyssa’s care.

“They’re just experts at doing what they have to do,” said Tania. Their compassion and empathy gave both Tania and Alyssa a sense of peace. “They were always so calm and collected. You just felt like you were in the best hands.”

Alyssa is now six, and after 800 days of cancer treatment, she is in remission. She’s excited to start school and go on her very first field trip (something she wasn’t able to do while in active treatment). For their family, having leading edge care close to home made a world of difference.

“Something that was extremely challenging was made easier and more tolerable at Southlake.”

Join us in supporting families like Alyssa’s and the thousands of others who receive treatment at the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre by donating to our  HERE is Where Cancer Meets its Match Campaign.

Visit www.southlake.ca/here for more information.