Kathryn has been a SickKids patient since 2008 when she was five years old.
One evening that June Kathryn was feeling sick to her stomach and her mother, Heather, found a small lump on her abdomen. The next day, Kathryn’s doctor ordered an X-ray and ultrasound. The test results revealed a tumour in Kathryn's abdomen and Kathryn was immediately referred to The Hospital for Sick Children for further examination.
After a range of tests, including CT scans, bone scans, biopsies and blood work, the family received devastating news...
Kathryn suffered from Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nervous system that occurs in young children and is often difficult to diagnose because its symptoms can be vague.
By the time Kathryn arrived at the hospital, the tumour had spread to her bone marrow. She spent more than two weeks at the hospital undergoing chemotherapy treatment and surgery to remove the tumour.
In December 2008 and January 2009, she received a tandem stem cell transplants. Both transplants required Kathryn to remain in isolation for about 3 months. Following transplant, Kathryn then underwent 12 rounds of radiation to the tumour site.
By April 2009, she was in remission.
In order to ensure she was not exposed to illnesses her body could not fight, Kathryn was homeschooled by her mom for most of Grade 1 but returned to school in March 2010. She was thrilled about being back at school with her friends and being “normal” again.
Unfortunately, in August 2010, her cancer returned. This time on her spine.
Devastated by this news, Kathryn began chemotherapy again in September 2010. She and her mom drove down to the hospital from their home about an hour away each day for five days a week every three weeks followed by radiation once she achieved remission.
From September 2012 to February 2013, she had immunotherapy which required her to be inpatient at the hospital either one or two weeks every month
Throughout the relapse treatment, Kathryn attended school full time except when she had to go the hospital. In the summer of 2013, for the first time in 6 years, she played soccer and won the award for the league for Girls under 10 for enthusiasm. In the spring of 2014 Kathryn graduated from grade 5, excelling in all subjects and she played soccer for her second year.
She was at 30 months remission in September 2014 when tests showed the cancer had returned. She underwent further treatment that effectively killed all the cancer.
In September 2015 scans showed another recurrence and she underwent more treatment in the fall of 2015. Despite responding to the treatment, the routine scans showed another relapse in May 2016 and yet another in late 2017.
As all of the conventional treatment options have now been exhausted Kathryn began a phase 1 clinical trial in March 2018
Kathryn is now 15 years old and was diagnosed in June 2008 so she has been battling neuroblastoma for almost 10 years.
During that 10 years she has undergone 43 rounds of chemotherapy, 27 rounds of radiation, 12 rounds of immunotherapy, 20+ surgeries, 2 rounds of MIBG therapy and 2 bone marrow/stem cell transplants.
She is now on battle number 6 and is on a trial treatment of TOPAZ which means she takes chemotherapy every day for 28 days and then starts another cycle.