Vincent, 5 years old

The hidden cost of cancer

When two-year-old Vincent’s mom brought him to The Children’s with horrible stomach pains, nothing could have prepared the single mother for what would happen next. Within 10 minutes, her only child was undergoing rounds of tests. After an overnight stay, she learned that Vincent had an advanced and very rare form of cancerous tumour in his liver. It was the size of a football and had already spread to his lungs.

All of a sudden, life as they had known it was irrevocably changed. “In a matter of days we were swept into a whole other world,” she recalls. The following months were extremely difficult, with Vincent in and out of hospital.

Vincent was placed in isolation and started on chemotherapy, but four months later, the tumour was still growing. Although it would be dangerous, an operation to remove 80% of his liver was unavoidable. “It was very risky,” said Dr. Jean-Martin Laberge, who performed the surgery. “But given Vincent’s age, we felt pretty sure the liver cells would regenerate and gradually bring the organ back to its normal size.”

At this point, not only was the young mother suffering the emotional stress of caring for a sick child, she also faced an unexpected financial burden. A single parent, she could not leave her critically-ill child’s bedside to go to work and extra costs, not covered by the government, began to add up.

Fortunately, the Tiny Tim Fund was there to help. Every year, generous donations provide financial relief for families whose hands are already full caring for a sick child. Vincent’s mother no longer had to worry about paying for her meals or parking during Vincent’s treatment. The Fund even prevented her from going into debt to pay for expensive prescription medications for her child. “At the time, this made all the difference,” she explains. “I didn’t have to stress about finances as much and was able to focus my attention on Vincent.”

The family spent almost a year in and out of The Children’s, with Vincent undergoing surgery and chemotherapy. Now five years old, he in remission and family life is slowly returning to normal. Vincent is in kindergarten and is very excited about becoming a big brother. His mom, who is expecting her second child, couldn’t be happier.

“There were times when I was convinced Vincent wouldn’t make it to three, let alone be going to school alongside other kids his age,” she says, fighting back tears. “For the first year of his illness, I couldn’t ever bring myself to cry. Now, I just can’t hold back anytime I think of what a fighter my Vincent is!”

Donate to the Tiny Tim Fund

Photos

© 2017 The Montreal
Children’s Hospital Foundation

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