Meet Leena

When she’s not in hospital herself, 2-year-old Leena loves to put on her little doctor’s coat and care for her stuffed animals and family members. 

Within the first couple of weeks of starting daycare at 18 months old, Leena fell ill with what seemed to be norovirus. She had rarely been sick before that, so her parents were concerned when she didn’t recover as expected. 

Leena’s doctor sent her to the local hospital for an examination where an ultrasound revealed a mark on her liver, prompting more investigation and a referral to SickKids.

But as her family waited for the appointment date to come around, Leena began to display more unusual symptoms like bruising around her eyes. 

Then, after picking Leena up from daycare one day, her parents noticed a small bump on the side of her head. Alarmed, they rushed her to the SickKids Emergency Department.

Within 24 hours, Leena was diagnosed with stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. 

In Leena’s mom’s words, “We had no idea what was in store for us after Leena’s diagnosis… it was a time of so much uncertainty, sadness and despair.”

Upon closer examination, the initial mark found on her liver was actually not on her liver, it was the primary tumor growing on her adrenal gland.

Leena’s cancer was particularly aggressive due to a specific gene amplification which has resulted in metastases (also known as tumor deposits) throughout her body. 

After her diagnosis, Leena was admitted and started a gruelling treatment plan immediately. 

She has endured 5 rounds of chemotherapy, a stem cell harvest, resection surgery, 2 rounds of combined chemotherapy/immunotherapy, 2 rounds of high dose chemo, 2 stem cell transplants and 12 rounds of radiation.

Her treatment journey has been demanding and relentless. 

Leena should have been playing and learning alongside other toddlers, but instead she has spent so much time in the confines of the hospital with doctors and nurses as her everyday companions.

Regardless, she has displayed such extraordinary maturity through it all. She constantly amazes her parents with her level of understanding and the complexity of her sentences – a side effect of her daily interactions with medical professionals. 

Thankfully, on March 14, her family received the news that Leena’s scan results were clear with “no evidence of disease”. 

This brave girl is now in the final phase of her treatment which involves 5 rounds of immunotherapy. She’s able to spend more time at home, going into the hospital for just 1 week per month, and is regaining her energy and curiosity. 

The goal is for Leena to finish her frontline treatment by August, just in time to celebrate her 3rd birthday. 

Legendary Leena, the whole GCC family is cheering you on! We ride for YOU!