as told by her mom, Christine.
Writing this is so incredibly difficult. All those memories come flooding back and I cannot stop the tears. But I will try to tell you the story…
It was June 21st , 2014 when we heard the news that our daughter had ALL. That was a difficult day. Initially, the worst part was going home and telling our other children, aged 16 and 6, that their sister would be flown to London in the morning, and that she was really sick. Then we had to leave them behind while we tried to figure out what was going to save Brenna’s life.
Prior to diagnosis, Brenna had extreme headaches that we thought originated from a head injury, and arm and shoulder pain that was thought to be from swimming. It was the hip pain and the inability to walk that finally had the ER doctors listening. When she was diagnosed, Brenna was 14, a competitive swimmer, and close to graduating from the 8th grade. She was excited about high school and all the fun that was about to begin. She was always our fighter, our strong-willed, funny, always laughing, beautiful little girl. Instead of graduating with her Grade 8 class, Brenna was transferred to London’s Children’s Hospital where she had bone marrow aspirations, multiple pokes, tests, numerous doctors, and months spent in isolation, away from friends and family.
During treatment, Brenna had a few trips to the ICU, grand mal seisures from the medication that was injected into her spinal fluid, and a life-saving bone marrow transplant at Toronto’s SickKids. Her dad was her perfect, and very rare, 10/10 match!
In total, we spent only 20 widely spaced days at home while she was in treatment. It was the visits from Renee from Childcan and all the little normal things that kept us sane in the hospital. Through a bursary from Childcan, Brenna was able to complete part of her grade 9 credits online. This kept her from falling behind in school, and also gave us something normal to do. We also received hospital food vouchers so we could eat and not leave Brenna’s side.
We still have multiple visits to London’s Children’s Hospital for follow-up care as a result of treatment. However, Brenna is staying strong and healthy and we absolutely love all the laughter we have back in our house! Brenna is 16 now, in Grade 11, and nearly two years post bone marrow transplant. She is doing fantastic!
We met many people that are now part of our family, Renee included! I don’t know what we would have done without all the support!