“It’s a devastating feeling when one of your children faces a life-threatening illness,” says Mary of Fredericton, New Brunswick. “And it could happen to any of us at any time.”
The call came on an April afternoon in 2017. Mary was on her way to a class at the YMCA when her cell phone rang. “I didn’t want to answer at first because it would make me late for my class. But when I saw it was from my son – calling me in the middle of the day – I immediately answered.”
When he shared that he’d been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, Mary turned her car around, rushed back home, and bought a one-way ticket to Toronto for that night, leaving her two dogs in the care of a pet sitter. It would be four months before she returned home.
From Devastation to Confidence
“The entire experience was emotionally and physically draining,” Mary said. “It was difficult being away from my friends, and from my dogs.” Despite her own worry, Mary tried to be a source of calm, confidence, and positivity for her son and his family. Once he was admitted to The Princess Margaret, Mary says that all got much easier. “The staff gave us incredible confidence in their abilities and the care he was receiving. We also did our research as a family and felt quite confident he was in the best possible place.” It was during his care that Mary started to develop a keen sense of how much cancer care has changed over the years, and that her son was benefitting from the very latest advances. It was like a light bulb had gone off. And suddenly, she was seeing progress and research everywhere. “You start to become aware that research has a physical presence at The Princess Margaret, and it reassures you to know that.”
For many patients with acute myeloid leukemia, the prognosis is grim without a stem cell transplant. That’s why Mary and her family were overjoyed when they received the news — a stem cell donor who was a 100% match had been found! “We are eternally grateful,” said Mary.
Being a Part of the Success
Her hope for all those impacted by cancer? “That The Princess Margaret continues to achieve big breakthroughs!”
“Contributions to The Princess Margaret are so important,” Mary emphasizes. “It’s through research and donations that lives are saved, like my son’s.” Mary is now making her own contributions to help Conquer Cancer In Our Lifetime through monthly giving at The Princess Margaret. She’s also doing everything she can to rally others to the cause: “Everyone knows someone who is touched by cancer. So let’s donate, large or small, and help save lives.”
Published May 24, 2019