When Amanda was two, she was diagnosed with MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome) and AML (acute myeloid leukemia). She spent the next five months in the hospital, undergoing total body irradiation and a bone marrow transplant. A couple of years later, in 2008, Amanda was ready to start pre-school when she relapsed. This time, she had only a 30 per cent chance of survival.
While she has been cancer-free for years, Amanda’s list of treatment-related side effects is endless. With only 70 per cent lung capacity, cataracts, artificial lenses, extremely brittle bones and dental implants and reconstructive jaw surgery on the horizon, Amanda is looking at a lifetime of medical issues. She will need to see specialists multiple times a year for the rest of her life.
None of this stops Amanda. She is an active participant in our PEER exercise program, which helps her to manage some of the treatment-related side effects. Amanda is also developing leadership skills through the Teen Leadership Program, organizing fundraising events and volunteering at local non-profits. A 2022 Kids Cancer Care spokeskid, Amanda also represents the foundation at fundraising and awareness events across southern Alberta.
When Mikah was 14, she was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Life would never be the same for Mikah and her family. A month into her two-and-a-half-year treatment plan, Mikah experienced severe adverse reactions to the chemotherapy. First it was paralysis, followed by brain swelling, which impaired her ability to move, speak, breathe, or swallow. Mikah spent months rehabilitating to regain her strength and coordination. Now finished treatment, Mikah is facing a lifetime of serious side effects, including avascular necrosis. The condition is caused by a lack of blood flow to the bones and made her bones and joints as fragile as glass.
Fortunately, Mikah and her family found lasting support at Kids Cancer Care—from Pizza Nights at the Hospital to therapeutic exercise, tutoring, camp, leadership, and recreational programs that are helping Mikah and her family rebuild their lives in the wake of childhood cancer.
Active in our PEER exercise program and Teen Leadership Program, Mikah is thrilled to represent Kids Cancer Care as a 2022 spokeskid. She hopes to be an optometrist one day. Savoring every second of every day, Mikah ends each speech with inspiring words of gratitude: “Honestly this, this right here, me standing in front of you is an opportunity I will forever be grateful for.”