When asked to describe her two boys, Kristin smiled at the possibilities.
Her oldest, nine-year-old Khylin, has high-functioning autism. He’s quiet, calm, focused and often found doing his own thing.
Landyn is the opposite.
At six years old, he’s feisty, busy, energetic, and involved in almost every activity imaginable – from swimming and mini golf, to bike riding and basketball, just to name a few.
But five years ago, it was a different story.
At 11 months old, Landyn was diagnosed with cancer – Stage One Neuroblastoma that triggered Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome (OMS).
This condition caused Landyn’s eyes to flicker, and he would lose his balance. He couldn’t walk or move without assistance and, when the condition was at its worst, he would be hit by “rage attacks,” which caused him to be inconsolable for up to an hour at a time. It affected his sleep, his speech, his feeding and movement – almost every aspect of his young life.
The diagnosis turned the family’s world upside down.
Kristin left her job at the school she had been with for 14 years to care for Landyn. “Literally for months he was attached to me because he couldn’t walk or move safely. So I got used to him being physically with me day in and day out,” she said, remembering that she would often get by on four or five hours of sleep each night.
OMS is a very rare neurological condition, affecting just one in 10 million. With such a rare diagnosis, Kristin remembers it being an isolating experience. “There was nobody else that I could connect with. Literally. Not one other family,” she recalls. “Overall it’s exhaustion…you’re in shock and survival mode. You just do what you have to do to take care of your kids.”
That’s one of the reasons the support from Helping Families Handle Cancer (HFHC) was so memorable for her.
Five days after receiving the diagnosis, the family returned home from the hospital while they awaited treatment. That morning, Kristin received a call to let her know that Helping Families would be providing parking passes, just to ease one of the financial burdens they would be facing in the years to come.
Looking back, a lot of the details are a blur, but Kristin distinctly remembers feeling immense gratitude. “The one thing that stuck out for me always throughout this whole thing was how grateful I was to Helping Families. Having that support was just so key to helping us get through financially. I can’t imagine what we would’ve done, honestly, without their help.”
Landyn’s journey to remission took over two years and involved multiple treatments. Over that time, Helping Families was able to support them in a number of ways, and allow them to focus on their family and Landyn’s recovery.
This ranged from providing parking passes to helping with a mortgage payment. It even included preschool payments to allow Khylin to remain in preschool and help normalize life for him as much as possible.
Throughout that period and for the years since then, it was the donors who supported this family, and hundreds of Alberta families like them, as they struggled with the costs of caring for their child in treatment for cancer. Donors like you, who have helped with these tangible expenses.
And for families like Kristin’s, it made a world of difference.
“It might seem insignificant, or like it’s not a lot, but it is; it makes a huge difference.” she said.
“Then you don’t have that stress and that worry and that burden. It just takes that away from you, so you can focus on your kids, and you can focus on yourself, even a little bit.”
Thank you for your donations. You are a true hero.
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