Our sweet little girl Lena was born on December 8, 2017. She immediately filled our lives with so much joy and happiness. Right from birth, Lena was a smiley, playful and a perceptive child.
During a family vacation in late summer of 2019, Lena just wasn’t her usual self. She wasn’t sleeping, she was barely eating, and had low energy. All she wanted was to be cuddled and held every minute of every day. We could feel that something just wasn’t right. In addition to her unusual behavior, Lena developed bruising all over her body and head.
Upon arrival to Montreal, we rushed Lena to the Emergency of the Montreal Children’s Hospital where we were told, within hours of our arrival, on September 6, 2019, the most devastating news of our lives. The emergency room doctor looked at us with a heavy heart as he announced to us that our 21-month-old toddler had leukemia. Additional testing and procedures in the days that followed confirmed that Lena had High-Risk B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
Our world immediately came to an abrupt halt. We were in complete shock and disbelief, and were faced with many unanswered questions. Lena’s condition was too serious to be discharged from the hospital. Within days of her diagnosis, she began the first phase of intense chemotherapy treatment as an in-patient at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Since then, Lena has spent countless days, weeks and months in hospital receiving treatment, testing, blood transfusions, spinal taps, bone marrow aspirations and x-rays.
Throughout her battle, Lena has demonstrated remarkable resilience and strength. She has managed to maintain her contagious smile and wit. Lena lights up any room she walks into, whether it be at home or in the hospital! Even while undergoing the most intense phases of her treatment, Lena maintained her incredible sense of humour, and continued to laugh, sing, dance and play! We are amazed and inspired by our brave and courageous little girl each and every day.
We are extremely grateful for the unparalleled care and treatment that Lena has received and continues to receive, which have allowed for her to be with us today, stronger than ever before. Lena is currently in the maintenance phase of her treatment, which is set to be completed in January 2022.
We are also very fortunate to be surrounded by a wonderful support system. Our family and friends have played a key role in helping us cope with and overcome the biggest hardship of our lives.
We are honoured that Lena has been chosen as this year’s Girl of the Year to help inspire the candidates while raising awareness of childhood blood cancers. We would like to thank each and every person involved in the campaign for their time and dedication to a cause that is so dear to our hearts. We are eternally grateful for all your support as we have witnessed first-hand what your remarkable contributions help provide to cancer patients like our brave little girl.