It all started on April 13, 2015. Our son, Yuvraj, who was eight years old had come down with a flu for weeks. Initially, we thought it was just a flu that was going around his school. Then, we noticed bruises and small black dots on his body. At the same time, he had no appetite. We took him to the family doctor and the doctor ordered a Complete Blood Count (CBC). After about four hours my husband received a call from our family doctor stating that Yuvraj had to be taken to Alberta Children’s Hospital immediately. Our doctor did not tell us why.
Yuvraj is a saint. He is loved by one and all, soft spoken and very shy. He is a brilliant soccer player and every team wants him on their side. He plays goalie and forward when needed.
We reached ACH at around 9 p.m. and were taken to the emergency room, where we were met by three doctors and plenty of nurses. More blood work and testing was done on our little boy. Doctor’s asked us basic questions like when we first started to notice the bruises. After answering all of their questions, they came to a startling conclusion: Yuvraj had Leukemia.
At that moment, everything went blank in our minds and our world was turned upside down. They said they were 99.99 per cent sure and we just faded out. The world was at a stand still. We were admitted to Unit 1, which is the Oncology unit at Alberta Children’s Hospital. Tears flowing down our faces, we did not talk to each other. My mom, my husband and I were in the room with Yuvraj, each one of us lost in our own thoughts, staring into the darkness. But Yuvraj was calm and sleeping soundly.
The morning came and so did the doctors and nurses. We were told that Yuvraj needed a central line put in, a lumber puncture and Bone Marrow Aspirant (BMA). Everything was just words for us. We agreed to everything the doctors were saying, after all, they were going to cure our son. We were then taken into the “meeting room”. Once there, we were told that Leukemia was confirmed and our son’s type was AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia), which is a rare form of Leukemia in children. They explained the treatment plan. He would need four rounds of chemotherapy. He had a “good risk” with inversion of gene 16 in his DNA. Okay, but what did that mean? It meant he would not need a bone marrow transplant.
The treatment started immediately. After only the first round of chemotherapy, we were informed Yuvraj was in full remission, which meant no cancer cells were detected in his blood. This was good news. Just after the first round of chemotherapy, we welcomed our second child, a precious little girl. We named her Mannat – a special prayer.
We had been in the hospital since April and being from Lethbridge, we were staying at Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta. And what a house it is! It is full of wonderful people, staff and volunteers. The house provides for 23 families at a time. Dinners are cooked by volunteers. There were others who were going through the same things we were. On the days Yuvraj was at the House, everyone made a big deal about him. The Family Recreation Coordinator and Family Life Specialist would do arts and crafts with him. It was all to make him happy and healthy. We were taken care of. Hugs were welcomed and needed. Every family in the House prayed for other families. The House became a home away from home in the truest sense. It felt like we were all one “big family”.
After four rounds of chemotherapy, Yuvraj was free of cancer and we were preparing to go home. Then, one day, Yuvraj started having fevers again. More tests were performed. We were told that he had a life threatening fungal infection in his lungs and sinuses. This was unbelievable. He was moved to the ICU and put on oxygen. They thought he’d be there for at least 10 to 12 days but Yuvraj, the warrior, was out of there on day five. He was finally coming out of the woods and the anti-fungal medications were working. But we were told that he would be on them for at least three months.
We finally went home on October 3, 2015. We had lived at Ronald McDonald House for six months. We said our goodbyes to staff and headed home. We were silently praying and thanking GOD.
In December, the infection was worse in his sinuses, though his lungs were clear. We were back in the hospital and at the House. Yuvraj underwent multiple surgeries on his sinuses, MRI scans and CT scans. We spent our Christmas and New Year’s at the House. Yuvraj and Mannat were spoiled. After about 45 days, we were ready to head home again. It was January 22, 2016.
On February 5, I received a call saying that abnormal cells were found in Yuvraj’s blood. I knew what it meant. Yuvraj’s cancer was back. Once again, we were returning to the hospital and Ronald McDonald House.
Yuvraj is undergoing more chemotherapy and will be receiving a bone marrow transplant this time.
As our journey continues, we are hopeful and have faith. Yuvraj has a great future ahead of him. He wants to be a professional soccer player. He says when he becomes famous, he will visit children at the hospital and at the House. He wants to give them hope and inspire them. I know in my heart that he will be everything he wants to be. He has strength and a fighting spirit. He is like an ocean: calm on the surface but beneath it is forceful. He is a true warrior.
On Wednesday, May 4, 2016, $1 from each Happy Meal, Big Mac and McCafe beverage sold at McDonald’s Restaurants will be donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities and other children’s charities across Canada. Since the first McHappy Day in 1977, over $50 million has been raised in support of sick children just like Yuvraj and their families.