LAUREN: Forever AGE 14
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
On April 23rd 2018, Lauren left us unexpectedly. It was a tough battle for Lauren as she experienced many side effects that would make an ordinary person buckle. But Lauren was no ordinary person. She was tough as nails and fought every day with a smile and a sense of humour. Her bravery was matched by her endless kindness and generosity as she strived to bring awareness to Childhood Cancer and to provide comfort to others fighting the same battle. Lauren came from an amazingly loving family and she made such a huge impact on her extended Gold Family. She will be missed more than words can say. Rest peacefully Lauren, you have a beautiful soul and your light shines on.
When our 12 year old daughter complained of her shoulder being sore; we had no idea that within weeks she would be diagnosed with ALL. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia is the most common cancer diagnosed in children. The shoulder pain, along with other joint pains and lumps were small pieces of the puzzle that lead her paediatrician and the doctors at McMaster to that diagnosis. Since then, Lauren has undergone the rigorous treatment to rid her body of the cancer that threatened her life. Leukaemia treatments last for 2 years and 3 months following diagnosis. That is regardless of remission. So far Lauren has experienced, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, neuropathy, mouth sores, and a mini stroke. Her treatment will continue until July 2018. She has been unable to go to school full time since March. While she keeps a brave and courageous face, this has changed her, and it takes a toll on all of us.
Lauren is the youngest of four in our family. She has a step sister Sarah who is 28, a brother Theo who will soon be 18, and another brother Zach who is 16. Having a sibling who is critically ill is very difficult on Lauren's sister and brothers. While they all have experienced concern and worry, it's been especially hard on Zach. He was born with a congenital heart disease which threatened his life unless he received a heart transplant. He had that transplant when he was 9 1/2 weeks old. This was followed by a lifetime of medical interventions, including a second transplant at the age of four, which have saved his life, and have made him super sensitive to what his sister is enduring now.
Recently, the same week that Lauren had the stroke, her brother Theo was taken to our local emergency. After being admitted, and undergoing tests and treatment for dehydration, he was transferred to McMaster in Hamilton for further testing. He was diagnosed with a rare disease called Addison's that will require lifelong medication and monitoring so that it doesn't become fatal. Our family has taken on tremendous medical obstacles over the last sixteen years. We have taken it all on with the strength of our love for one another, and the support from family and friends. When we look towards the future, we hope for good health, days without chemo and nurses, and doctors, and worry. One of the consistent side effects of treatment for leukaemia is the inability to fight off illnesses. Her body is now much more susceptible to any bacteria and viruses, so hospital stays are more frequent. We are one of many families in Cambridge shouldering the weight of cancer with their child. It is a a strain physically, emotionally and financially. We know that resilience is a big part of recovery, and we remain as positive as we can throughout.