One cannot comprehend the need for the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario without first living vicariously through the people who rely on them.
This is Noah’s POGO story – shared by his mother, Rachel Wahl.
Pediatric cancers receive less than four percent of all research money raised for cancer. Less than four percent for our future generations, our most precious gifts…how is that even possible?
Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario dedicates their research funds to only pediatric cancer, with all the new research that they spearhead, I have confidence that those kids are getting a fighting chance.
Our POGO story begins on August 21, 2008
On this day, our world changed forever. That was the day we found out our seven-year-old son was in for the fight of his life. Noah was diagnosed with A.L.L. ph+ Leukemia. Due to the ph+ diagnosis, Noah’s battle was that much harder. He endured a longer treatment protocol then the regular Leukemia treatment.
It meant we would spend years in and out of a hospital.
When Noah had to be admitted, in London, Ontario, we faced a one-hour commute. Kevin (Noah’s Father) and Paige (Noah’s sister) would head to London on Friday night for dinner, and then I would take Paige home for the weekend – to spend some time with her. Kevin would spend the weekend looking after Noah. He would leave London on Monday morning and drive to Guelph for work.
Monday mornings I would drop Paige off at school and head back to London for the week.
Noah and I made up a game – when we were inpatient – because being in a hospital can be boring. We called it, ‘What are we going to do when we are all done with the hospital and treatments?’
On May 20, 2011, Noah relapsed for the second time and was immediately slated for a bone marrow transplant. The procedure was scheduled for September 30, 2011, we called it Noah’s new birthday. This was the day our daughter gave him the most precious gift, her bone marrow. To say having both of your children in the hospital at the same time is stressful is an understatement.
Noah was in isolation, waiting for the bone marrow, in a room where only myself or my husband were permitted. My eight-year-old daughter was on another floor prepping for surgery. It was one of the most awful days a parent can have.
We were very hopeful that the transplant would be a success.
On Noah’s 11th birthday we found out that the cancer was back, he had a less than one percent chance of survival.
On July 1, 2012, Noah earned his angel wings.
After an exhausting four year battle, my son was finally free.
Why do I support POGO?
Living in a hospital with no income gets expensive. POGO offers after-care clinics, research and financial help for families. They also offer satellite centers for their kids that are a godsend.
When Noah was able to stay in Kitchener, at Grand River Hospital, we had a more “normal” life.
Kevin would sleep at the hospital and then head to work. I would drop Paige off at school and head to the hospital, pick up Paige after school – collect laundry, food, or anything else we needed – and head back to the hospital. Kevin would come back to the hospital after work, we would have dinner as a family and Paige and I would head home.
This was our life for four years.
POGO’s Satellite Centers made it so much more manageable. We will forever be grateful to them for the support they provide.
When Noah was stable enough, some of his treatments; blood work, and over 70 blood transfusions were able to be done at GRH. This was so huge for us as we didn’t need to go to London or Sick Kids. I could drop Paige off at school, Noah and I could head to GRH, and be home in time to get Paige off the bus.
When Noah spiked a fever, we didn’t have to go to London, we could go to GRH with the confidence that he would be looked after according to the protocol POGO had set up. This was a major thing for us, Noah was always in the hospital so being close to home meant that we could function.
I did not have to spend the week in London with him or rely on the neighbors to drop my daughter off at school. We could function as a family unit, reducing our stress – and Noah’s.
We cannot do any of the things we planned to do together, instead, Kevin and I sit on the Kitchener Kids with Cancer run/walk committee, to raise funds and awareness for POGO.
We do this to honor Noah.
We do this to give back to an organization that helped us be as “normal” as possible, through the most difficult time of our lives.
Never in a million years did I think he would not be here today, I do what I can to keep up my end of the “game.”
Find out more about POGO at www.pogo.ca
Get involved with KW Kids with Cancer www.kwrunforpogo.com