4 min Read
A Lesson in Courage
April 7, 2008
4 min Read
April 7, 2008
I heard a story about the bravery of an 11-year-old girl and wanted you
to meet her, too. Krystianna Laurence has more than 669 Bravery Beads. Each represents a procedure that ranges from radiation treatment to chemotherapy
to a surgical procedure at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in her battle with Neuroblastoma – cancer. Liliane Laurence, a single mom and schoolteacher, clearly recalls when five-year-old Krystianna said “Mommy, my tummy hurts.” Her mother whipped her off to their doctor. Within two days, tests had been completed, her liver was found to be three times the normal size and she was admitted to SickKids. Krystianna spent several months undergoing many rounds of chemotherapy, surgery, a stem cell harvest, radiation and a bone marrow transplant. And then the good news: she was in remission. For three years she was disease-free – and then she relapsed. Scans showed a cancer in five places throughout her body. Her relapse meant more chemotherapy and surgery over the course of a year-and-a-half. Finally she was able to take oral chemotherapy at home.
RECLAIMING A NORMAL LIFE
Krystianna has kept abreast, scholastically, with the help of a little home tutoring. But her biggest concern, when she returned to school, was that she would be teased because she was wearing a hat to cover her bald head. She thought the teachers would insist on her removing her hat. But her school came through – big time. They declared Hat Week, and when Krystianna walked into the school, every student was wearing a hat. Gradually, she has resumed her two passions: horseback riding and Scottish country dancing. She currently goes to the hospital once a month for blood work and is on a high dose of vitamin A in the form of Accutane. Her friends have been by her side, taking turns going to the hospital
with her each time she goes back for a treatment or checkup. When I was visiting with her mom, Krystianna and her best friend were in the kitchen, baking cookies.
Krystianna runs a lemonade stand on Canada Day to raise funds to fight
the disease. She makes pretty pens and key chains and gives them as gifts
in exchange for donations. She astutely figured out that she could raise much more money asking for donations and rewarding the donor with a little gift that she could by selling the pieces! So what does this courageous little girl want? She wants what every little girl wants – to giggle with her friends, to dance, to ride a horse – and to feel good.
1908 – SickKids installs the first milk pasteurization plant in Canada, 30
years before it becomes mandatory.
1930 – SickKids develops the fortified infant cereal ‘Pablum’, significantly
reducing death from malnutrition.
1963 – SickKids performs the first widely successful surgery to correct
transposition of the great arteries of the heart – the birth defect known
as ‘Blue Babies’.
1989 – SickKids discovers the gene which, when defective, causes cystic
fibrosis – the most fatal genetic disease killing Canadian children today.
1994 – SickKids provides the first biological proof that second-hand smoke
can affect a fetus.
2001 – SickKids discovers that infant heart transplants can be performed
safely and successfully, even when the blood types of the donor and recipient
2003 – SickKids compiles the complete DNA sequence of chromosome 7,
the chromosome containing 1,455 genes, some of which, when altered,
cause diseases such as cystic fibrosis, leukemia and autism.
2005 – SickKids is the first hospital in North America to replace a pulmonary
valve without performing open-heart surgery. The innovative procedure
reduces multiple open-heart surgeries and long hospital stays.
2006 – SickKids researchers identify a protein that contributes to preeclampsia,
a common problem during pregnancy.
2007 – SickKids researchers found a molecular pathway that plays a critical
role in bone healing and have found that the drug lithium can improve the
2007 – SickKids researchers discover a predictive marker for early onset
cancer in some cancer-prone families.
2007 – SickKids researchers find prenatal multivitamins reduce risk of childhood