The Impact of the Walk for SickKids: One Walk, Many Lives
By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar
Masalamommas is proud to support the Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk to Raise Funds for SickKids. We share one mother’s story about the impact this hospital has on lives of families.
Like many mothers, Michelle Dacosta, juggled the usual flus and viruses with three daughters in the house.
But when her youngest began to get sick after her 1-year check up, she began to get really worried. The symptoms were vague, she seemed uncomfortable and it appeared that her tummy was bothering her and one night she woke up crying in the middle of the night. Michelle and her husband knew that something was not right and took her to their local hospital. She was examined, blood work was done and she had an ultrasound of her abdomen. They found that she had blood in her urine. The ultrasound did not detect any major abnormalities but they discovered there was a small cyst in her abdomen.
She was prescribed antibiotics and sent home. A few days after, she woke up looking very pale, began gasping for breath and then began having seizures. After Michelle’s daughter was rushed to the hospital and her parents looked on in horror as doctors resuscitated her twice, she was taken to the Critical Care Unit at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).
Michelle’s association with SickKids began with an incredibly challenging journey that no mother should ever go through.
Samantha had a massive growth in her abdomen which was compressing her organs. Samantha’s family was introduced to the oncology team who told them that she had a germ cell tumour which was partially benign and partially malignant. This particular type of tumour is very rare. Doctors told the family that Samantha would require four rounds of chemotherapy followed by surgery.
Chemo began in late July 2014 and she continued until mid-October. At the end she was operated in a 6-hour surgery to remove any remaining tumour from her abdomen. Just before Christmas December 2014 the family learned that the pathology results were looking good and that there was no detectable disease and no re-growth of the original tumour.
“Sick Kids has always been referred to us our, ‘second home and family.’ I feel truly blessed each day to have the most amazing team of docs handling Samantha and her care. I have said that these are true angels walking amongst us in that hospital,” said DaCosta. “When I walk in there, each time I feel a sense of comfort, reassurance, hope. The compassion that they have and continue to show our family and others as well, is a remarkable thing.”
Samantha is closely followed by the specialists in the Garron Family Cancer Centre, with MRIs, x-rays and blood work.
When you are given a “cancer” diagnosis, there are no words that can describe what we as parent’s, experience in the very moment. Our entire world comes crashing down. The fear of losing a child, is a fear that can’t be explained. No parent should have to feel that, says DaCosta.
“Sick Kids and the docs and nurses that become a part of this journey with us, make all the difference. The impact is tremendous. In our worst of times, we knew that we were never alone. That there was still hope and that no one was going to give up fighting with us.”
And she wasn’t giving up fighting for others either. When Michelle found out about the Cannacord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk benefiting SickKids, she knew it was something she had to do.
“Samantha was in the middle of her chemo treatment. One morning while she was sleeping, I stepped out to go and grab myself a quick coffee. While waiting for the elevator, there was a poster promoting the walk. It grabbed my attention and I knew in that moment, it was something that I wanted to participate in.”
The Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk is a 5 to 20 km walk, to benefit SickKids, that brings the spirit of summer camp to downtown Toronto on September 24. You can walk, hike or stroll along a planned route of 5 km, 10 km, 15 km or 20 km, and earn badges at fun, activity-filled campsites along the way.
This will be Michelle’s second year being involved with the Walk; her first walk was in 2014. They were supposed to walk last year but her daughter had to go into surgery the week before.
I remember vividly, the first time we participated in the walk. As I stood there that day, surrounded by so many people. All families that came out to support an amazing place like Sick Kids, it was truly the most remarkable thing I have ever seen. Everyone comes together for one reason, our children. You can actually feel all the love from everyone there. I absolutely felt it that day.
At the time of diagnosis, Samantha was only 13 months old. Michelle says back then when they did anything together, to her, they weren’t the best of memories that you would want a child to have.
“Today, she is 3 and this will be the first time she is actually joining the walk. To her, it will be a day of fun and play. She says the Walk for Sick Kids is a critical one and urges all families to take the time to take part.
“It is a day that you will never forget. There is so much to be said about Sick Kids and what they do for so many families. There is no other place quite like it. It’s so important to continue to support them in any way possible because through all the support, donations, fundraising, this is what makes it possible for them to continue that amazing work that they do.”
For Michelle, it’s not just the work of Sick Kids that inspires her passion but also her daughter’s journey.
“My inspiration for everything that I do is Samantha and the hardships that she has had to endure because of cancer. Her strength inspires me each and every single day of my life. If she can do it, then I can do anything.”
We hope you’ll join Michelle and Masalamommas in supporting the Walk for Sick Kids on September 24 and share your pics with us!
It can be so easy to fundraise! Here are some tips to get you started:
- Host an office bake sale, it is sure to be a huge hit! Encourage your colleagues to get involved by providing delicious baked goods, or coming by with a donation! Everyone loves a sweet afternoon pick me up.
- Share your love of SickKids and your love of reading by selling your gently used books.
- Is yoga your passion? Do you love to share it with your friends? If so, host a karma yoga class at a local studio to raise money for your Great Camp Adventure Walk.
Fore more tips visit: Fundraising Ideas from Sick Kids
No time? Here’s a great way to raise $500 in just 7 days
This post was done in partnership with The Hospital for Sick Children.
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