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Team rallies to support toddler

18 May 2016

Charlottetown, PE -

Team rallies to support toddler with rare cancer

In August last year, Paula Pickering of Kensington realized, in the most heart wrenching way possible, the importance of fundraising efforts like Relay For Life. At that time, her world was turned upside down by her son Jacob being diagnosed with JMML, otherwise known as Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia, at the age of 15 months.


On November 20, 2015, Jacob received the gift of life - a bone marrow transplant- at the children’s hospital in Toronto.  Jacob needed to receive numerous platelet and red blood cell transfusions to stabilize him after the surgery, then in January, they moved to the IWK in Halifax for further recovery. 

All things considered, Jacob bounced back quickly. After not walking or talking for 35 days, he pushed through and was running and babbling in no time. He looked healthy and had a big appetite again. As one would imagine, Paula was ecstatic.


Shockingly, one hundred days after the transplant, Jacob relapsed. He had been doing so well and was full of energy, Paula never would have guessed her sweet little boy was sick. A few weeks ago the two of them began the journey back to Toronto for another bone marrow transplant. 

“Throughout this journey Jacob has been the most amazing little boy,” Paula shares. “I have been in complete awe of him every day, watching him and his high spirits. Not a day has gone by where I didn't see him smile or laugh. Jacob's strength, courage and bravery shows through every day. He has become a hero to many.”


Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) is a rare childhood cancer that usually happens in children younger than 2 years old. Chemotherapy may be used to temporarily control JMML. However, effective treatment of JMML usually requires a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant. Stem cell transplants in the treatment of cancer were developed through Canadian Cancer Society funded research.


Even though these therapies are the treatment of choice for kids with JMML, the disease remains difficult to cure. Canadian cancer Society Researchers are still looking into the use of alternative treatments, like molecular-targeted therapies and immunotherapies.

“The Canadian Cancer Society PEI provides a host of information and support services for Islanders on a cancer journey,” explains Jayna Stokes, Support Services Coordinator located in the Society’s Charlottetown office.  “However, for Jacob and others like him, the biggest thing that can change their quality of life, during and after cancer, will come from discoveries made through research. I find it hard to believe that right now, during all this, Paula is passionate about fundraising through Relay, but she is. It’s outstanding.” 


Friends and family of Jacob have registered a team called “Jacob’s Strong” in the Kensington Relay For Life event and are actively fundraising. Relay For Life is the Island’s largest annual fundraiser in the fight against ALL cancers. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to fundraise and participate in a Relay For Life. Proceeds are used to provide local support services and support the best cancer research available. There will be five events taking place across the Island this June. Registration is taking place now. To find out more, visit www.relayforlife.ca or call 1-866-566-4007. 


The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.


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For more information, please contact:
Danny Perry
Communications Intern
Canadian Cancer Society (PEI Division)
Email: danny.perry@pei.cancer.ca
Office: 902-566-4007
Cell: 902-394-7668


The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.