Atticus D’Orazio is five years old and loves animals, dinosaurs, cars and hockey cards. Ask him anything about animals, and he’s got an answer for you. Of course, he will tell you all about volcanoes too. As a big brother to his three-year-old sister, he takes his role seriously. Atticus is starting to get into sports now too, and his mom Evelyn enjoys letting him be.
Atticus will be ringing his end of treatment bell at Southlake’s Paediatric Oncology Clinic in late May. And Evelyn is excited for him because his world is now opening up. He can get back to being just a kid and enjoy the simple things, like tasting food flavours again and trying new sports activities.
“In all the three years of Atticus going to Southlake’s Paediatric Oncology Clinic, he has never complained that he didn’t want to go,” says Evelyn. “Not one time. That speaks volumes to the whole clinic.”
Evelyn speaks passionately about Atticus’s care from paediatric oncology nurses Lisa and Jen. He loved going to see them. “It’s bizarre to say he’s excited to go to chemo treatment, but he got to see Lisa and Jen,” says Evelyn.
Atticus was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in February 2019. The first year was filled with many trips between SickKids and Southlake He had seen more medication and treatments during his first year than many would in a lifetime. And he will continue receiving treatments, blood work, lumbar punctures and many other meds for some time to come.
It was after his induction period, and heading into his maintenance stage, that the idea of Atticus’ Golf Tournament came to fruition. Atticus’ father Clem, and family friends led the charge to “bring awareness and give back where we can,” says Evelyn.
Their first event was held at Cardinal Golf Club in King. “We just contacted everyone we knew, including our families, to participate and volunteer too,” says Evelyn. The event has since grown, and over the past two years, $10,000 has been raised for Southlake’s Paediatric Oncology Clinic. “We’re trying to do something bigger this year to celebrate the last of his cancer treatment. And we want to throw him a party.”
Atticus’ Annual Golf Tournament will be on August 13 at Silver Lakes Golf & Country Club in East Gwillimbury.
Evelyn is proud of Atticus’ strength, perseverance and generosity. She reflects on when Atticus donated all his third birthday presents to a volunteer named Marjorie at Southlake’s Paediatric Oncology Clinic. When he underwent his treatment, Marjorie would give little gifts such as Lego or cars to Atticus and other young patients to help put them at ease.
“I think it’s so easy for him because of how lucky we are to have so much support,” says Evelyn. “If it weren’t for Southlake, we’d be driving downtown for everything. And we don’t need to do that. We live 10 minutes away from the clinic, and I don’t know what other kid arrives at a hospital and runs to his nurses to hug them. So it makes sense that he wants to give things to them because they give him so much.”
Evelyn says her family will continue running Atticus’ Annual Golf Tournament for as long as they can and hope for her kids to take it over in the future. “If there’s anything that we can do to help other families and other kids going through something like this, we’ll do it,” says Evelyn.”