Offering support to create hope

16 September 2019

When her 12-year-old daughter Bria started complaining of headaches at the end of October in 2018, April didn’t think much of it. Then when she also said she couldn’t see the whiteboard clearly, April thought maybe she needed glasses.

“I took her to see an optometrist, as it would explain the headaches as well,” remembers April. “They told me her eyesight was perfect, but there was some swelling of her optic nerve. We were then referred to get an MRI and to see the neurosurgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).”

After that, things moved quickly. April and Bria saw the neurosurgeon on November 2 and then on November 7, Bria had brain surgery. The MRI had revealed an inoperable brain tumour, but surgery was necessary for a biopsy and to ease the flow of fluid from the brain to her spine.

“It was quite a shock,” says April. “I thought she needed glasses, but she ended up having an inoperable brain tumour.”

Bria is currently just over halfway through a 70-week treatment of weekly chemotherapy. Since her tumour is inoperable and so close to her brain and spine, CHEO encouraged April and Bria to keep their treatments there rather than a hospital closer to home.

April tries to keep things as normal as possible. Bria goes to school Monday to Thursday, and then they commute to Ottawa on Fridays for her chemotherapy treatment as well as monitoring tests like MRI's. A nurse at CHEO told April about the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) Wheels of Hope transportation program in Ontario which offers reimbursement for the cost of gas to get to their weekly treatments and other cancer-related appointments.

“Even though we’re going through cancer treatment, you can live normally, and we are,” says April. “Five days a week we’re a normal family, then two days a week we focus on getting Bria better.”

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Donate now to create lasting change for children with cancer, like Bria.